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Beatie Wolfe brings her new album Raw Space to life with augmented reality

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Singer-songwriter Beatie Wolfe is using technology to try to recapture some of music’s old-school magic and physicality.

We met with Wolfe last year to talk about her NFC-powered jacket, where you could tap your phone against the jacket and bring up a website promoting one of her singles.

For the launch of her new album Raw Space, Wolfe teamed up with Nokia Bell Labs (that’s the historic research facility Bell Labs, now owned by Nokia) and Design IO. Starting tomorrow, May 5, Bell Labs will be streaming 360-degree footage from its anechoic chamber — a room with no echoes, where a vinyl version of Raw Space will be playing.

The video will also include augmented reality animation created by Design IO, aimed at illustrating the emotions and ideas of the songs. Because some of the animation is generated in real time, it should look different each time through.

“I’d been really thinking about this idea of: What would the anti-stream for today’s streaming world look like?” Wolfe said. “And how could you kind of recreate that tangible component, all of the artwork that we’re currently missing out of that streaming experience, with this really pure sound — and bring that to life for today’s generation?”

This is happening under the umbrella of Bell Labs’ Experiments in Arts and Technology, a 50-year-old collaborative program whose past participants include artists like John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg. Bell Labs president and Nokia CTO Marcus Weldon said the program has “attenuated” over the decades, but he’s hoping to kickstart it by working with Wolfe.

“We thought, well, fiftieth anniversary, it’s time to revisit this,” he said.