Before there were mind-melting light shows at Pink Floyd concerts, and before there were untold numbers of immersive light-and-sound installations at art museums, there was Iannis Xenakis. The Greek-French composer would eventually become best known for his music, but before that—in the late 1950s—he also trained as an architect directly under Le Corbusier. When his collaboration with Le Corbusier ended, Xenakis, who had recorded some haunting conceptual-classical work earlier in the decade, began a creative pursuit to somehow bridge the two disciplines of architecture and music into one project.
He designed “polytopes,” big, spatial, media installations that combined light shows with a musical score. He staged the polytopes (Xenakis’s word, derived from the Greek words “poly,” which means many, and “topos,” for place) in churches and holy grounds, and even in the 1960s and 1970s used computers to program the light and sound frequencies that would engulf spectators in unprecedented sensory environments.
Portée/ is a modern day homage to Xenakis’s work. ….