Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra practice during opening night at the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 06, 2021 in New York City. Photo Credit: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images. Video: WHYY

Society USA30. April 2022

Welcome to the Stage, AI: Historic Grand Performance Kicked Off

For the first time in history, an artificial intelligence-powered screen joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in the U.S. in a joint performance where AI generated real-time images that followed the beat of the music via the help of an algorithm. 

Prior to the showcase, the system was fed thousands of images of Renaissance art and architecture in order for it to produce spontaneous images during the orchestra performance.

“We are taking from the Renaissance era every single building ever done, every single sculpture ever created, and every single painting ever done,” says its developer, Refik Anadol. 

Using both a vast database of images and a system of fluid dynamics, the AI is able to create animation effects resembling flowing water and wind. In a sort of psychedelic dreamscape, the pairing of the AI and Orchestra together helped bring the grandeur of long gone composers such as Beethoven back to life. Regarding the question of the ethics of AI, Anadol responds: “I’m not saying that it will never be bad or used for wrong, but the question is: what else can we do with it, such as creating art, beautiful experiences, and positive applications? That’s, I think, very exciting.” 


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