For this performance of Beethoven with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Anadol “taught” his system by feeding it hundreds of thousands of images of Renaissance art and architecture, the kind of aesthetic that Beethoven himself even would have consumed when he wrote his famous works.
“We take from the Renaissance era every building ever made, every sculpture ever created, and every painting ever made,” Anadol said. “This is incredibly voluminous cultural data. We are trying to make an AI to dream these beautiful cultural elements of mankind.
The system uses computational fluid dynamics algorithms to generate animation effects resembling flowing water and wind in hair. It often appears as a psychedelic dreamscape, empowered by a full orchestra, large choir and vocal soloists bringing Beethoven’s grandeur to life.
For Anadol, this is the most ethical application of artificial intelligence.
“AI is a myth that people think of in the most negative way, but in reality it can be a tool for humanity, for the next journey,” he said. “Like any technology, it has a 50% chance of being used for good reasons. I’m not saying it will never be bad or misused, but the question is, what else can we do with it, like creating art, beautiful experiences, and positive applications? It is, I think, very exciting.
Anadol’s AI visualizations have accompanied other orchestras in the past, including Brucknerhaus in Austria and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Normally, the visuals are recordings of the machine’s responses to music played from the stage, but this performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra will be the first time the AI machine has responded live to music in real time, responding to the age-old question: Do androids dream of electric sheep?
Beethoven’s program coupled with Anadol’s machine will be played this weekend only at Verizon Hall.