A Festival of Art and Technology: Panorama 2016

July’s Panorama Festival of music, art and technology was an innovative concept in itself, and also a unique opportunity for brands like Google and HP to curate experiences for festival-goers. Held on Randall’s island, Panorama was conceived by AEG — the same group who created Coachella.

I had the experience of attending the first-ever Panorama festival with my best friend, Hannah (or as I prefer, HG). As a Pace Gallery employee and fellow Arcade Fire enthusiast, HG shared my excitement in actually getting to be there — even as the heat wave flared, leaving every person in attendance drenched in a gross, unifying sweat.

The spotlight at Panorama was definitely on headlining artists Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem, but the brands in attendance did manage to steal some of the attention through boldly leveraging creativity and technology. Among these brands were HP, Google and American Express.

Here’s a rundown of what we observed:

Google created a tower that was placed in the center of the main field. Vibrant animations projected on the exterior sides, and on the inside walls were covered in neon graffiti. Two flights of stairs also led to a rooftop where around twenty people at a time could take in a great view of the festival, catch a breeze and eat free ice-cream sandwiches. Second to getting to stand behind Winn Butler for an uninterrupted three minutes, this was HG’s favorite part of Panorama.

In partnership with The Verge, HP powered seven installations in a high-tech dome dubbed ‘the lab’, which was designed to place “experiential digital art at the heart of the festival”. At first, HG and I came close to dismissing the dome as a place too obviously intended for Instagram opportunities, but we came around when we saw there was a sleek, white bouncy castle. (Side note: we actually had a chance to speak with the artist, who explained to us that his inspiration was the fact that adults miss childhood – which speaks to the concept of adults going to a music festival, in my opinion) Another installation of note was a pink tent with swings made of soft, white sheets that lit up and made a musical noise when activated.

The Lab’s grand installation was a virtual reality film made by HP which required viewers to lay down on the floor. Sprawled across the ground with strangers, HG and I were amazed by this experience. The film’s surreal 3D animations were well-received in a continuous chorus of astonished gasps from entranced viewers.

HG and I only observed the American Express lounge from afar, opting to properly enjoy  the Alabama Shakes set instead of going into another place that would take away from the music. From what I’ve read on Ad Week, American Express made an app that people could use to unlock ‘exclusive geotags’ and rewards. This sounds cool… but, in reality, neither HG or I would have cared to download an app on these premises. HG was in a storage war with her phone during Panorama; I’m personally reluctant to give out any personal information on websites or apps — especially when the murky territory of credit cards becomes involved.

In all, Panorama Festival signals the appetite young people have for content that relates to the music they are passionate about. Brands were able to create ripple effects of exposure through enabling festival-goers to create their own social media. The results: positive brand associations, increased awareness, tens of thousands of Instagrams, and an incredible musical festival.

A picture I took of the scene at Panorama. To the left is ‘the lab’ powered by HP and to the right is the Google tower.
A festival-goer running into the sunset
An installation inside ‘the lab’
HG inside the bouncy castle – a highlight of the day
This is a picture of me on the swinging installation inside ‘the lab’

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