The debut edition of the New York music festival Panorama offered up its share of crowd-pleasing acts, but more unusually, it also gave top billing to a new breed of rock stars: experiential technologists.

Goldenvoice, the organizers behind California’s Coachella music festival, partnered with tech media company The Verge to debut Panorama on New York’s Randalls Island. The festival stood out for its heavy emphasis on immersive tech. The Lab, a tech space curated by experience production company META.is, housed seven interactive installations by New York–based digital artists, as well a show-stopping 70-foot VR theater inside The Dome, and the exterior’s projection art is produced by VolvoxLabs.

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Arcade Fire at the Panorama stage on day one. Courtesy of Panorama Music Festival
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The Lab. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz
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The Lab. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz

Even during performances by headlining music acts, the line into The Lab remained jammed, which META founder Justin Bolognino said demonstrated the success and demand for immersive tech in a festival setting. “This is tech amplified,” he said. “What we are proving here is that we can use tech to foster human curiosity and joy.”

Once inside The Lab, crowds of festivalgoers could jump inside a motion-responsive bouncy structure shaped like intestines (Visceral Recess by Future Wife) or swing on sound-responsive cocoons (Hyper Thread by Dave and Gabe). Infinite Wall by Garbiel Pulecio was an enclosed, mirrored installation that captured movement and translated it into light and sound. Reflection Study by Zachary Lieberman created visual art from objects and light.

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Reflection Study by Zach Lieberman. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz
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Infinite Wall by Gabriel Pulecio. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz
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Hyper Thread by Dave and Gabe

In The Dome, visitors lay on their backs and stared wide-eyed at 360-degree artworks projected on the ceiling. Bolognino said the installation was a way to bypass the isolation imposed by typical virtual reality setups. “I see domes in the public setting as the communal VR experience,” he said.

“The client cried because they were so overwhelmed by the experience and my five-year-old daughter ran out halfway in because she was scared,” Bolognino continued. “It’s an emotional experience.”

In March 2016, the Innovation Group reported on the rise of experience culture at festivals.

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Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz
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Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz
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The Dome. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz

Main image: The Lab, facade produced by VolvoxLabs. Photography by Nikki Jahanforouz

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