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INTERSECT BY LEXUS is a unique creative hub that hosts innovative installations throughout the year. The New York location is the brand’s third iteration, behind Tokyo and Dubai, welcoming visitors to a three-floor space of cultural exploration. Here, collaborative experiences with global creatives—like culinary masters, fashion designers, and artists—transform the space into an up-close look at entertainment, technology, and innovation.
Today, the Meatpacking District location plays host to a new installation by conceptual artists Dave & Gabe entitled “Inner Light.” Open through April 6, the undulating structure made up of 88 LED columns takes guests on a journey through the senses. Immersing them in continuous waves of light, the installation is also accompanied by music by the Grammy-nominated artist Jhené Aiko.
Whitewall spoke with artists Dave & Gabe about the latest work, how they’re playing with unpredictability and digital technology, and where they think the future of experience-based art is heading.
WHITEWALL: Last week at the opening celebration for “Inner Light,” there was a special musical performance by Jhené Aiko. Tell us a bit about this and your piece at the New York space.
DAVE & GABE: “Inner Light” is our most recent custom-designed, large-scale audiovisual installation. The piece invites guests to step inside a synesthetic manifestation of Jhené Aiko’s music. The massive sculpture of lights is highly choreographed to express the sweeping emotions and rhythms of the music composition.
The disklavier piano at the heart of the piece autonomously performs live; the physical sound of the hammers hit the strings as the keys move, while the rest of the arrangement swarms throughout the room via the multi-channel spatial audio system. The piece is a tightly woven hybrid of acoustic and electronic sound, light, color, and spatial animation.
WW: Where did your interest in immersive installations merging lights and sound begin?
D&G: We both have formal backgrounds in sound. Dave in architectural acoustics and Gabe in the recording industry. We first started working together at a time when we were feeling frustrated by the pace and limitations of our respective fields.
We started the studio in 2015 to develop projects that would embody a new type of spatial musical experience—one that would immerse and react to the audience. Since then, our motivations have evolved and grown to encompass a broader approach that we now take with spatial experience design. Our design process focuses on the core elements of space, sound, and light. Each of these disciplines are in dialog with the others in our work, leading to the intuitive and unique projects we’re known for.
WW: Where does a typical project begin?
D&G: Our studio focuses on building interactive experiences, which loosely encompass the design and fabrication of objects and environments that are imbued with, or shaped by, digital technology. We like to play with the expectations of our audience, manipulating a space and the patterns of how it is used by introducing these elements. If we can inject unpredictability and intrigue, a space can suddenly feel alive, reacting with its own personality and behavior.
With the above in mind, we typically start with the existing scale of the space we’re going to be in, thinking about the flow of visitors and the number of people we can accommodate within the sculptural footprint of what we’re designing. The interaction design falls out from there, along with visual and sonic systems and design. We prototype early in the design process, making at-scale physical versions of the project to test our assumptions of how things feel in person.
WW: Can you walk us through some other recent projects you’ve created?
D&G: We recently created a series of music and lighting sculptures with Sonos, which were temporarily installed in New York City and London. We worked with music from Holly Herndon, The National, and Slowthai for those pieces. We also recently hosted Ka Baird live at our studio for her record release of “Respires.” It was a special immersive show that took advantage of our permanent 40-channel audio system at Future Space.
WW: Let’s elaborate on Future Space—a part of your studio, dedicated to collaboration. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
B&G: Our process has always been very collaborative. For example, the projects we design usually involve custom physical elements. In our early years, we became friends with the fabricators in our neighborhood near our first studio space. All of us were outgrowing the spaces and workshops we were renting, but we realized if we combined forces, we could take over a much larger building and share resources between our companies.
We formed a new company made up of our five studios, comprised of Dave & Gabe, Future Wife, Gamma, Super A-OK, and YoungBuk. We all worked to renovate a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in Bushwick that we now collectively run as Future Space. It serves as the home for all of our companies but also is a place where we can present our experimental projects and live events to the public.
WW: Where do you think the future of art in relation to experience is heading?
D&G: There’s recently been a massive increase of attention from the public in immersive experiences and installations. We’ve been inspired to see dedicated venues gaining traction that are drawing fans around this work and the artists that develop these projects. The relationship between project creators and the people that experience the work will continue to grow and evolve and further establish the vocabulary of what makes a particular work extraordinary. This dialogue between artists and audiences is essential.
WW: What are you hoping to explore in the future with your practice?
D&G: We specifically want to design experiences that are highly interactive and bring groups of people together, even though these two things are often very challenging to successfully achieve when mediated by technology. If we can push the expectations for audiences beyond everything they’ve seen to this point, we hope to drive the quality of these projects to new levels.