Explore the future of interactive, think beyond virtual reality and screens, and meet us  at the intersection of light, music and technology.  Inside Deloitte Digital’s Interplay Lab at SXSW, visitors can play on the ARC –the Audience Reactive Composition. On the ARC, you’ll literally stand side-by-side with Grammy-nominee RAC and other indie artists to co-create a one-of-a-kind music experience.  We pulled aside creatives Gabe Liberti and David Rife (Collectively, Dave & Gabe) to chat about building the ARC.


1. What is the ARC?

The ARC is an interactive music experience. It’s a collaboration with indie artist RAC. We worked with him to create a piece of music that could not only evolve and change, but also respond to an audience as they come in and play with 5 unique instruments

2. How Did You Come Up with the Instruments for the ARC?

The instruments themselves came about based on the idea that we wanted to create something that doesn’t read like a traditional instrument. We wanted to make something that is familiar in terms of how you play with it. We asked ourselves, if you were to just walk up to it, would you intuitively know how to make it work?

Typically when you present a guitar or keyboard to people who don’t have a history of playing music, they feel that they don’t have permission to play that thing. They say, “I’m not very good at that,” or “I don’t know how to do that.”  We want the opposite. We want people who aren’t formally trained in music to be able to play along with this amazing artist.

As you start playing with these instruments in the ARC, you realize that you’re in control of that piece of music. With our piece, the music can go anywhere and react to however many people are playing the ARC.


3. Can you tell me a little bit about working with RAC?

Working with RAC is interesting because he’s both a musician and a remix artist.  He’s used to making his own music while also reinterpreting other people’s music. He curates this experience of thinking about how a song can be different. That’s what it takes to make a great interactive experience; it’s not just thinking, “This is the ultimate way that this song should be.” It’s about saying “Here are all the possibilities that a song can have.”

The ARC has become an expression of Andre’s [RAC’s] music, and listeners can have fun with deciding the possibilities of where a song can go. It’s an interesting way to think about how a composer or musician can deliver their music – as a listener, you don’t just hit play, but you can decide how you experience the physical and musical adventure of a song by pulling apart the arpeggios, the tempo, and the feel.

4. What is different about the ARC as an interactive media experience?

We’re used to touching screens and waving our hands in the air, but grabbing something, feeling it, and moving it is a different and unique design inspiration for the ARC instruments. Muscle memory and tactile feedback are human phenomena, and it’s silly that over the past 20 years we’ve divorced ourselves from this sensory experience.

Think about this – you can close your eyes, reach down, and with no visual input, you can still tie your shoes. It’s true that we are very visual as humans, but our muscle memory and tactile intelligence is incredibly powerful. The future of digital technology and interaction should speak to those physical properties.

As we move into the future, there is a growing community of people using microcontrollers, physical sensors, and programming with objects. The computer doesn’t end at the inputs of the keyboard and screen; it’s part of our environment, and that’s what it means to be digital in the future.


5. What has it been like to work with Deloitte in exploring these concepts?

We were really impressed with the thoroughness of Deloitte’s thinking, especially with regard to how everything connected to each other in this experience. When our conversations first started, we were working through a narrative for the future of music and how listeners and artists would act in a different way. Going back and forth with Deloitte about what that new future would mean and how it would look in an installation was super exciting. As we explored that concept together, we realized that we were really on the same page and reinforcing each other’s instincts about what the future looked like.


Visit the ARC inside the Interplay Lab on March 11, 12-6pm and March 12, 12-5:30pm. Find out more sxsw.deloittedigital.com.