The immersive installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
ArtLab by Kengo Kuma – Photo © Michel Denancé

The Installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2 revives 50 years of jazz history The Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2 is a research program at the crossroads between architecture, design and technology. The program is led by the EPFL+ECAL Lab in close collaboration with the architectural lab ALICE, at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
ArtLab by Kengo Kuma – Photo © Michel Denancé

This new permanent and immersive installation is hosted within the new campus building designed by the architect Kengo Kuma, and situated just next to the Montreux Jazz Café. Rather than mimicking the past, the project leads the audience on a unique journey through 50 years of history and 5.000 hours of audiovisual recordings made at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © Joël Tettamanti

Visitors truly feel that they are live on stage with Ella Fitzgerald, standing beside Miles Davis’ trumpet, or composing Smoke on the Water together with Deep Purple. After an 8-year long preservation project kick-started by Audemars Piguet, Montreux Sounds and EPFL, visitors can now delve into 50 years of concerts and have world’s largest collection of live jazz, blues and rock recordings at their fingertips – the first audiovisual library ever to be listed in the UNESCO “Memory of the World” Register.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © Joël Tettamanti

“The original concert experience is set against the backdrop of Lake Geneva and the mountains, the atmosphere of festival-goers in their thousands, the unfolding of events on stage, and above all the flesh-and-blood presence of the musicians. We can’t recreate this. Instead, we need to make the most of what digital has to offer, on order to create an alternative, complementary experience,” says Nicolas Henchoz, the project curator.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © Joël Tettamanti

Several principles have driven the multiple design and research choices: from a deep desire to preserve the recordings’ cultural value and content by keeping the original footage unaltered and prevalent, to the enhancement of the immersive experience. To boost the power of the central images, the sidewalls of the installation consist of mirrored panels featuring a LED light grid, which reveals data and visuals about the concerts.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © Joël Tettamanti

The double curvature of the central screen takes the form of a torus segment, which creates a sense of depth without generating fatigue or queasiness. This sophisticated geometry offers a variety of views both from the Montreux Jazz Café and the external square, the heart of the university campus. The partial, intriguing transparency towards the café creates an enveloping atmosphere during the day and illuminates the campus at night.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © Joël Tettamanti

The set-up simultaneously provides an intimate space within which to view the archive, and sparks broader dialogue with its environment. Last, but not least, the building system contributes to the sonic environment by hosting speakers for 3D sound and absorbing sound reflections in the installation space.

installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2
Photo © ALICE EPFL

An innovative browsing system permits the public to scroll a horizontal timeline and choose between over 44.000 tracks or performances, in a simple touch. Following its public opening, the Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab 2 will continue to evolve. It will serve as a tool to explore new research issues, provide a testing ground for designers, and also observe users’ perceptions, on order to better understand the impact of immersive devices. Source by EPFL+ECAL Lab and ALICE.

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