Artist Sarah Meyohas’ Interactive Exhibition Dawn Chorus is Quite the Experience to be had at Top of the Rock
On the 69th Floor of 30 Rockefeller is an experience just waiting for your arrival; available for free to all Top of the Rock Observation Deck ticket holders. It’s an interactive exhibition (named Dawn Chorus) by New York’s own Sarah Meyohas, a conceptual artist whose other creation, Speculations, will be on display until September 12.
We had the chance to take in Dawn Chorus and what a treat it was. It’s an augmented reality experience which entails donning a Microsoft HoloLens 2 device that’s akin to wearing a Virtual Reality Occulus headset.
Yours truly was hesitant at first due to all the many negative experiences I’d encountered over the years with Occulus sorts of devices. Not having even heard of the HoloLens before I’d no idea what I was in for. Well, it was nothing short of a delight. Nothing cumbersome about this. My glasses didn’t fog up, no strain on my head, no eye fatigue. Nothing but the pleasure of experiencing Sarah Meyohas’ creation and what a work of art it was!
Within seconds I felt as if I were in the middle of a Disney production with birds fluttering about, half expecting Snow White to materialize in front of me; all to the tune of music coming from the self-playing piano. Mind you, as the term “Augmented Reality” implies, that which I witnessed was in concert with my actual surroundings: piano, walls and all. Basically, it’s virtual reality thrown in upon one’s own reality. I wished it had lasted more than my guesstimated five minutes.
One is left wondering about the possibilities of such technology as well as the inner-workings of this artist’s approach. How did she come up with this? What will she create next? Well, below are Ms. Moyohas’ answers to some questions I asked of her. We thank her for sharing with us all such beauty.
Near the bottom of this page are are accompanying photos and more. Should you find yourself checking out the ‘Top of the Rock’, a highly worthwhile experience for all, then be sure to check out both of her works.
Asked about where did the inspiration for Dawn Chorus come from:
The Artist: “The piece’s namesake (Dawn Chorus) comes from a phenomenon known as “the electromagnetic dawn chorus,” referring to electromagnetic waves produced by moving particles in Earth’s outer radiation belt, which are then picked up by radio equipment and coincidentally resemble birdsong. Certain birds also manifest what’s known as structural color, wherein color is produced not by a bird’s natural pigment, but the three-dimensional microscopic structure of their feathers, through which light reflects and produces some of the most vivid colors in nature. This is very similar to how holography works—and in turn the Microsoft HoloLens headset—with light bouncing through microscopic structures etched into glass to produce three-dimensional images. “
Asked about how was it done?
The Artist: “The musical component is an amalgam of several parts: first, flute sounds alongside recordings of the electromagnetic dawn chorus itself play over surrounding speakers, and second, the Yamaha Disklavier player piano automatically plays a composition by French composer David François Moreau, as well as a series of algorithmically developed whole-tone scales. The viewer, looking through a Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset, sees a flurry of holographic birds flying in and out of the piano, as if it were a birdbath, triggering selections of the musical composition.”
Asked about her use and experience with augmented reality:
The Artist: “A major throughline in my work is the exploration of emerging technologies and how they relate to biological life, so for example the relationship between structural color found in birds’ feathers and analog glass plate holography, which I’ve also used in my practice, and which is a precursor to modern day holography and augmented reality headsets like HoloLens. I’ve incorporated augmented reality in earlier iterations of Dawn Chorus this past year and in 2020, however previously I have only worked with virtual reality, for another project called Cloud of Petals. “
Asked specifically if there was some great masterpiece she aspired to creating:
The Artist: “For the past few years I’ve been writing a feature-length adaptation of the myth of Medusa set within the perfume industry. I’m hopeful that it will be my masterpiece, though I suppose one always hopes the next project is the masterpiece, and then it never is. It’s always the next one.”
Accompanying images courtesy of Tishman Speyer:
More about the Artist:
Sarah Meyohas (b. 1991, New York) is a conceptual artist and pioneer in the field of crypto art, whose practice considers the nature and capabilities of emerging technologies in contemporary society. In 2015, Meyohas created Bitchcoin, a cryptocurrency backed by her physical artwork. Predating the launch of Ethereum, Bitchcoin is the first tokenization of physical art on a blockchain, effectively a “proto-NFT.” Using the familiar emblems of biological life, Meyohas investigates the complex operations that increasingly govern our world: soaring birds, created using augmented-reality software, flock in unison with the frenetic variations of the stock market; rose petals, aggregately identical but individually unique, comprise the dataset for their AI-created equivalents; Bitchcoin, a cryptocurrency backed by physical artworks, questions the speculative value of cryptocurrency and the ineffable value of art. Meyohas creates an intelligible visual language to articulate the systems and technologies that increasingly influence our world.
Meyohas’s work has been exhibited in New York at Red Bull Arts, 303 Gallery, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art and internationally at institutions including the Barbican Centre, London, the Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, and the Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, Vice, and Artforum, and has appeared on CNBC, PBS, and CBC. Her film Cloud of Petals has been screened at various film festivals worldwide, including the Slamdance Film Festival and the Locarno Film Festival. In 2017 she was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Meyohas holds dual degrees in Finance and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and in 2015 received her M.F.A. from Yale University. Sarah Meyohas is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery, which will present a major solo exhibition of the artist in 2023.