April 15th, 2008
The Poème électronique was a unique experience, originated from the request made by Philips to Le Corbusier for the design of the company’s pavilion at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. The whole project was initiated and directed by Le Corbusier, who also created and/or selected the images for the audiovisual show, with the organized sound composed by Edgar Varèse, and the stunning surfaces of the building designed by Iannis Xenakis. The result was a ground breaking immersive environment, since the space of the Pavilion hosted the audio and the visual materials as integral parts of the architectural design.
Unluckily, such a visionary synthesis of innovative ideas could not stand with its times, and the paradigm was never repeated, or even attempted, again: the Pavilion, notwithstanding the incredible number of spectators (2 millions), was turned down a few months after its inauguration, at the end of the Exposition. The disappearance of the Pavilion makes the Poème électronique a destroyed masterpiece.
What we stl have today are only fragments of the various components (i.e. photos and drafts of the architecture, the projected video in videotape from the Philips archives, a stereo reduction of Varèse’s and Xenakis’ musical pieces).
Virtual Electronic Poem (VEP) is a project realized as a virtual reality (VR) environment that reproduces the experience of the dismantled masterpiece through an accurate philological reconstruction of the original installation. The website looks a bit out of date but the first of two films in this post shows the results of the work. The second shows the Poème électronique as a film rather than in its architectural context. Perhaps someone out there would be good enough to bring the building into a public setting on Second Life?