Ever wanted to be immersed in the world of Beyoncé? Do Björk’s songs create images in your mind you wish you could see before you? Does Lady Gaga’s music call for lasers? Now you can see all of that and more in a form music fans rarely get to experience, thanks to the folks over at the Museum of Science.
The Charles Hayden Planetarium is the most advanced digital theater in New England, housing laser shows to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and galaxy exhibits for years. But in the summer of 2016, the team who organizes those productions decided to do something different—and it’s since changed the trajectory of the planetarium’s scheduling for the better—called the SubSpace Project, an experimental playground where adults could experience art through a scientific lens.
“When David Bowie passed, we were all so upset,” says Dani LeBlanc, the Planetarium Show Producer. “We wanted to pay tribute to him and realized we had the Planetarium’s walls at our disposal, so we started brainstorming ideas.” What they created, an intergalactic tribute, paired Bowie songs with unique animations that illustrated the literal and metaphorical themes of his work.
“It was an incubator for us to develop experiences for adults at the planetarium,” says James Wetzel, the adult program coordinator in the museum’s Lectures and Special Programs Department. “We combined the classic catalogs of some of music’s biggest icons with some stunning visuals created by the planetarium team. It’s a new way for audiences to experience the music, and based off the sold-out nights and feedback we received, the people of Boston want more. Way more than we expected.”
So they listened. From now until the end of the month, the Museum of Science is hosting three special music exhibits: The Beyoncé Experience, The Björk Experience, and The Lady Gaga Experience. The full schedule (which will, presumably, be updated each month) can be read here. With cutting-edge technology and inventive visuals, the Charles Hayden Planetarium dome becomes an immersive platform to see 3D takes on 2D music. Each musical icon gets a tribute that spans her catalog, touching on deep cuts and radio hits alike, while segueing from one scene to the next. Visuals soar into the galaxy and submerge themselves into the water. Put simply: It’s 45 minutes of pure creativity ignited by a love of music.
The Museum of Science has screened laser shows for ages, but the team at the Planetarium wanted to let audiences experience the technology in ways that kept up with the times. “Now that we have this team of animators, we gave them an outlet to visualize music in ways we could put together in a product,” says LeBlanc. “The software allows them to perform it live. There’s actually someone behind the console who runs the show live, adapting things on the fly, and if people like a certain visual, they can do more of that as the audience oohs and aahs.”
In the past, the Museum of Science projected one-night-only experiences for everyone from Radiohead to Tom Waits, and since tickets to January’s shows are already selling quickly, it’s looking to the coming months to experiment with alternative musical acts. “It feels like every day when we walk down the hallway, we have colleagues who stop us to suggest musicians we should design experiences for,” laughs Wetzel. “There’s a lot of artists we’re excited to dive into. Now we just need to pick the dates.”
THE BEYONCE, BJORK, AND LADY GAGA EXPERIENCE. FRI 1.20–SAT 1.28. CHARLES HAYDEN PLANETARIUM, 1 SCIENCE PARK, BOSTON. TIMES VARY/ALL AGES/$8-10. MOS.ORG