Grimes, Bon Iver, and Other Musicians Are Creating Immersive Art Experiences to Draw Attention to the Climate Crisis

The installations will appear in a pop-up exhibition in Brooklyn.

Grimes. Courtesy of Undercurrent.

Next month, Grimes, Bon Iver, The 1975, and other musicians will try their hands at art in the name of raising awareness around the climate crisis. Each act will lend their vision to a separate immersive multimedia experience for a pop-up exhibition opening September 9 in Brooklyn. “Undercurrent,” as the event is called, is the debut outing of a new event company of the same name. 

Each of the event’s 11 installations will be developed in collaboration with one of three environmentally-focused nonprofits: Kiss the Ground, Ocean Conservancy, and Global Forest Generation. 

A “portion of ticket sales” will be donated to the organizations, but a spokesperson for Undercurrent didn’t specify how much. The event’s organizers will also set up education modules dedicated to each of the three nonprofits.

The art projects, meanwhile, will extend across 60,000 square feet of installation space, along with food and drink vendors and areas for special programming. 

Most of the details regarding what the individual works will look like have yet to be made public, with the exception of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s contribution. His will take the form of an immersive three-channel video installation that mixes collaged video, audio, and an improvisational dance directed by artists Eric Timothy Carlson and Aaron Anderson. 

“I just want somebody to walk out changed and to be thinking about things outside of the normal concepts that they’re usually worried about,” Vernon said in a statement. “We want them to walk out having a wider perspective on the meaning of life and what we can leave behind.” 

Grimes also provided a little hint to what she’s thinking about in a statement about why she signed on: “If we don’t protect the environment, the future of consciousness will be artificial, not biological. Would mental health and wellness even be relevant in a world where emotions aren’t an evolutionary advantage?” 

Her project, which she describes as “A.I. Meditations,” was made with a generative language program that’s initially fed human-made meditations and then makes its own. “Personally, I find beauty in this work, but it represents a distinct artistic shift from things written by humans,” she said. “This work isn’t critical of A. I., but rather a neutral depiction of what the wellness landscape might look like without us.” 

The 1975. Courtesy of Undercurrent.

The 1975. Courtesy of Undercurrent.

Other musicians contributing to the event include Jorja Smith, Khruangbin, Miguel, Mount Kimbie, Actress, and Nosaj Thing. (Each will be paid for their contributions, according to the Undercurrent representative.)

Undercurrent was created by business partners Steve Milton and Brett Volker, who previously founded Listen, a sound agency that designs audio and music for sonic branding.

“We’re all hoping Undercurrent becomes something that moves people to search out to imagine, to create in ways that benefit not just humanity, but our earth and all the various finite ecosystems that rely upon each other to make sure that everything works and everything is in order,” said Miguel. “Because right now,” he added, “it’s obviously not in order.”

Tickets for “Undercurrent” are on sale now. They cost $45 each.

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