Brian Eno’s Multisensory, Mixed-Reality Experience

Bloom: Open Space is the kind of technology-focused activation we love at Group Delphi. But like its eccentric creators, the mixed-reality experience isn’t easily described.

Bloom: Open Space found its origins in the Bloom iOS app. Brainchild of longtime collaborative duo Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers, the Bloom app invites users to tap the screen to create musical and visual abstractions, no two of which are ever alike. While touchscreen technology is almost painfully ubiquitous, its application here lends a certain “else-ness” that feels like signature Eno.

From Screen to Space

Using the Bloom app is a magical, enrapturing experience. So it’s no wonder that bringing it out of the touchscreen and into the real world would multiply the effect.

“I have always been interested by the possibilities that new technologies offer,” said Eno, the self-described “non-musician” known for producing albums for such legends as U2, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads. “Particularly that subset which falls under the heading ‘things nobody ever thought of doing before.’ This offer was an opportunity to explore the possibilities of Bloom further, and augmented reality further.”

The Mixed-Reality Experience

The mixed-reality experience did just that. Live in Amsterdam for only five days in February 2018, Bloom: Open Space allowed 10 to 15 visitors at a time to don Microsoft HoloLens headsets, step into a central circle, and tap thumb and forefinger together to create audio/visual “blooms.” Each bloom was a haunting, unique melody matched to a colorful, ever-evolving circle that floated around and above the users. Dozens more people were able to take part in the experience as viewers, watching and hearing the multi-sensory garden unfold in 2D through floor-to-ceiling screens and speakers.

“This is my first toe in the water with augmented reality, and I like this thing of still being in the world, with another experience added to it,” Eno said.

Kudos to all involved for doing a mixed-reality experience right. While many brands and activations lean so heavily on VR as to let the humanity of the moment be supplanted by the tech, Bloom: Open Space blended the virtual and the human to create something altogether magical.

Next Steps

For more on the challenges and triumphs of blending digital and analog for stellar experiences, check out our Missed Connection guide.

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