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Photography Harley Weir, Styling Robbie Spencer

Björk dips into her archives for a NYC hotel’s AI-driven soundscape

The lobby music will change with passing clouds or flocks of birds

Björk has opened up her archives to revisit choral arrangements from years gone by, which will feature in an AI-driven soundscape in the lobby of Sister City, a New York-based hotel.

Simply titled Kórsafn (or “choral archives”), the project will combine snippets of music written over 17 years by the singer, including that of the 50-man Hamrahlid choir from Iceland, which Björk used to be a member of and featured in her experimental theatre show, Cornucopia.

But these snippets will also be controlled by Microsoft AI, evolving according to weather patterns and passing flocks of birds or planes, captured by a camera on Sister City’s roof.

“an architectural structure downtown manhattan offered me the hand in an AI tango and i accepted the call,” Björk says in a statement: “i am alert with curiosity waiting the results.”

She also describes, in her typically dreamy way, how the material from her archives: “will float through the pinball of artificial intelligence by the grid of bird migrations, clouds, aeroplanes and that voluptuous thing called barometer ! hudson valley happens to be one of the most bird-trafficked deltas on the planet, i know this of my own experience ....”

The collaboration came about after the singer stayed with the Hamrahlid choir at Sister City during her Cornucopia residency at The Shed in New York, but it’s not the hotel’s first foray into AI-aided music. 

The musician Julianna Barwick scored a similarly interactive piece there last year, though the AI has improved at parsing the passing sky since then (and will continue to do so, meaning even more evolutions on the horizon for Björk’s music).