I've fallen victim to the bug that's been going around recently. More specifically the DUB bug, an addiction to listening to mind-deafening bass and letting the music reverberate through every organ, bone and muscle in your body. It's a movement that has been slowly on the rise for the past twenty years with its earlier roots in electronic house music. What makes this music so popular? What is it about it's all-encompassing nature that makes even the shyest kid on the floor wave his hands around without a care? Quite simply it's the visceral experience that removes us from our context and places us in one that is oblivious to anything outside of the music.
Put simply, the music is immersive, a subject I have been concentrated on since my B.Arch thesis last year. It overtakes everything within our being and places us in a world of our own - or a world of tens of thousands of others'. Being a designer, an architect at that, I saw this music as being so powerful because it is reminiscent of space. Maybe not space in the traditional sense which we engage everyday but more specifically something spanning back to the gripping cathedral and church architecture. Music festivals such as Ultra in Miami (possibly the largest electronic concert in the world) have a way of taking control of all of the people at a show and completely removing their minds from anything else besides the performance occurring on stage.
It's a perfect combination of lights, dancing, explosions and of course music. By its very nature it's immersive, however take all of those things without a coherent choreography and it would be more of a distraction. The amount of timing and rehearsals that go into these shows are impressive and indicative of the planning of a building with all of it separate parts coming together perfectly to form a harmony with all of the senses. This is what really grips the concert-goers the most, the harmonic combination of all the different senses all aligned with a great song made on a Mac in a kitchen the night before. It's a rugged art that has exploded in popularity and will only continue to grow.
Dub and Space?
It's hard to translate this to a built entity. A concert is a series of moving parts which are choreographed perfectly to create a feeling within an experience. A building is a collection of static elements that are composed in a way to achieve the same effect as a performance. It is more specifically the essence that can be portrayed in architecture or space, this is a translation that allows something so dynamic to be packed into something so static. Or is it static? People use buildings and space, these people at various times within these extents are either moving or stationary, either way they are the activating arm within a built environment. If we treat the people as such, they become the immersive elements within space. All of the different moving parts in a concert become two in a building, the concrete space and the people that populate it. An additional item may be the negative spaces between these two elements that dance and fluctuate depending on the dynamic component; the people.
Perhaps a bit too much to think of through text, but this new wave of music, dubstep specifically, has a way of embodying its audiences. It's a powerful and moving in a way that captures the essence of the vibrations coming from the DJ's speakers and manifests it into tangible outputs. The experiences at these shows are not far off from architecture and as a matter of fact are all elements expressive designers look to embed in their creations. It may be hard to capture the all of the excitement and pieces in their entirety in something as regulated as a piece of architecture, however if it can be done it will be a space that will forever change how we perceive our environment.