The tragedy of the smartphone age is that it has significantly turned everyone away from genuine human interaction, for the dubious reward of staring endlessly and mind-numbingly into a screen that, let’s be honest, is just never going to love you back. But what if that device could actually be used to bring people together for a massive public experience?
This is precisely what occurred at the Lowlands Festival in Holland this past weekend. Indeed, thousands of attendees participated together in the official debut of the rather edifyingly named Smartphone Orchestra.
The team behind it had spent the better part of a year working on the composition itself, conjuring new methods of composing based on the advantages and challenges of using smartphone technology. The final piece of was influenced somewhat by the methodologies of minimal music, with ringtones and notification beeps as key final elements. For the event, scores of phones were synchronized to create harmonic accord and a uniquely participatory bonding experience.
‘We wanted to reverse the operation of the device,” explains Smartphone Orchestra initiator Steye Hallema, “and use it to get people to come together and share a wonderful experience. We are very proud that we were able to achieve something on this scale at the Netherlands’ most pioneering pop festival. It was an experience that I, in any case, will not quickly forget.’
Lowlands is, to be sure. one of Europe’s buzziest annual music events. This year it brought together the likes of The Kills, LCD Soundsystem, CHVRCHES, Die Antwoord, James Blake and Sigur Ros, amongst others. But the hope is that the Smartphone Orchestra experience has left all to ponder a new way forward in their relationship with their intrusive little electronic devices.