On the heels of U2's premiere performance at Las Vegas' Sphere, the world has been buzzing about the impressive visuals that surrounded the legendary band during the concert. Taking full advantage of the full immersive experience that the Sphere's 4D technology provides, the band commissioned special artwork to accompany their U2:UV Achtung Baby Live residency.
As the band performed tracks from their seminal Achtung Baby album, they were surrounded by work by Marco Brambilla, Es Devlin, and John Gerrard. Devlin, who was also involved in the stage design, expanded on a concept that she first worked on during her Come Home collaboration with Cartier. For the Sphere, she produced a digital sculpture of Nevada's most endangered species.
For Nevada Ark, Devlin carefully selected 26 of Nevada's 152 endangered species and created sculptures that were then magnified across Sphere's interior.
“There's immense power generated by 18,000 people singing together songs that have been woven through their bones and sinews over the past three decades,” shares the English artist. “It's a potent way to inaugurate this new piece of architectural geometry and to graft it to its particular place in Nevada.
“Every time we learn the name of a species, we make a room for it in the memory palace of our minds, and 18,000 people will emerge each night knowing the names of more species than they did before they arrived at the Sphere.”
Artist Marco Brambilla also seized the opportunity and created a kinetic mural that pays homage to the king of Las Vegas. King Size pays homage to Elvis Presley and the legacy he left behind in the city. The video montage looks back at Presley's life while also showing how his persona has been amplified into something larger than he could have ever dreamed. Taking full advantage of new technology, Brambilla’s video sequence for Even Better Than the Real Thing features AI-generated Elvises.
“King Size is a meditation on the intertwined narratives of Elvis and the rise of Las Vegas. Elvis’ transformation into myth and Vegas into the epicenter of the American consumer-entertainment complex,” explains Brambilla.
U2 turned to their countryman John Gerrard for another portion of the show. As the band played Where the Streets Have No Name, a projection of a white flag waving in the Nevada desert appeared. The flag, made from plumes of water vapor, is a play on previous work Gerrard has made to address the effects of climate change. In his second piece for the show, Flare (for u2) 2023, a gas flare in the form of a flag burns in the South Pacific Ocean and is a meditation on the existential threat that heating oceans pose to low-lying lands as well as the economic and geopolitical factors contributing to the climate crisis.
Even when it was still under construction, Sphere promised to change the way that the public experienced entertainment. And after only a few nights in use, it certainly appears to have lived up to its promise. U2:UV Achtung Baby Live is set to run through December 16, 2023, at Las Vegas' Sphere.