Computational Sculptures

Death and the Powers

Motorized LED walls set the stage for a futuristic robot opera.

Client
American Repertory Theater

Collaborators
MIT Media Lab
Department of the 4th Dimension

Press
PBS
Variety
Wall Street Journal

Death and the Powers is a high-tech opera created by the MIT Media Lab and the American Repertory Theatre. Composed by Tod Machover and directed by Diane Paulus, the show uses a rich array of new custom technologies and display elements to tell the story of an ailing trillionaire who uploads his consciousness into 'the cloud'. Oh yeah, and there are robots. 

Sosolimited designed four large LED display walls used to embody the digitized spirit of Simon Powers. Simon's movement and breathing, monitored by sensors throughout the performance, altered the lighting and graphics. The Department of the Fourth Dimension designed the media content displayed on the screens. The robotic walls moved throughout during the performance, conjuring images of bookshelves and super computers.

The opera debuted at the Opéra Monte-Carlo in 2010, and has travelled internationally in the years since. Pictures are courtesy of Jonathan Williams, Jess Kim, and Matt Checkowski.

Performers cower as a voice bellows from the sensor-driven LED displays.
Rugged design allowed the performers to climb the walls.
Even an intervention from the UN cannot stop Simon Powers.
Visuals are linked to the volume of the performers voices.
The boot-up sequence of Simon's new consciousness.
The moving set pieces become performers in their own right.
Miranda hides behind the sentient walls.
Nicolas defies his father's wrath.
The robots in the wings.
Press & Accolades
The technology and the music worked together, so that all that hardware and software was about the people and the story, not about itself.
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