Opus 1 festival to combine art, music and technology in Columbia

Imagine the feeling of being on the same wavelength as another person through brainwave synchronization.

A group of computational artists, video artists and neuroscientists is hoping to simulate that sensation with a “mutual wave machine, ” one of 11 large-scale “activation” areas at the inaugural OPUS 1 festival coming to Columbia’s Symphony Woods this month.

Billed as an immersive “multisensory experience,” the free festival aims to blend art installations, musical performances and technology on Oct. 7. Among the futuristic installations: an inflatable air pavilion called “the lighting cloud,” a projection cube that surrounds visitors in a 360-degree environment of video and art, and an exhibit titled “The Color Field Immersion,” which explores perception of sound, light and space.

Festival organizers haven’t forgotten about visitors’ sense of taste; Opus 1 will include a culinary village with bites from regional chefs and restaurants.

The new 4,500-square-foot Chrysalis stage in Merriweather Park will be put to use during the festival and will include an exhibit titled “Dream Machine,” a sculpture said to be hallucination-inducing.

“What we find exciting about it is that we have a structure that marries technology and art together,” says Nina Basu, president and CEO of the Inner Arbor Trust, the nonprofit tasked with developing Symphony Woods, of the newest stage in the park. “The Chrysalis is green in more ways than one. It’s of nature but it’s not natural. It took a lot of technology to build and this festival is really taking the land and that structure and running with it.”

For the Howard Hughes Corporation, the real estate developer financing the festival, Opus 1 plays into the vision for Columbia’s future.

“With the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia, we’re trying to create a regional hub for culture and commerce,” says Vanessa Rodriguez, director of marketing for Howard Hughes, which has been constructing new office buildings near Merriweather. “We wanted to bring the next level of what art and culture looks like for downtown.”

If you go

Opus 1

4 p.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 7

Merriweather Post Pavilion and Symphony Woods, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia

Reserve a complimentary pass at opusmerriweather.com

The event is curated and produced by Wild Dogs International, a New York City-based art production and design company. For Wild Dogs curator Ken Farmer, the festival is all about turning an already-known venue into something different and unique.

“We’re using the convergence of art and technology as a jumping-off point to really transform Symphony Woods,” Farmer says. “Everyone knows that Merriweather Post Pavilion is a legendary concert venue, and we’re looking to diversify the area through Opus to bring art, music and technology together to life.”

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