In a room pulsating with light projections, sound, and electronic monitors, a network of artificial intelligence circuitry wrapped inside a cube of what looks like an organic fungus hums with what might become the end of the world.
This is ATAM, an entity which may or may not be at the heart of the new immersive environment attraction Otherworld, opening this weekend in Northeast Philadelphia.
“That’s supposed to be this HAL 9000 sort of supercomputer A.I. god of this futuristic techno-utopian community,” said Otherworld creator Jordan Renda. “You’re becoming a subscriber to that community when you enter Otherworld.”
Jordan Renda, creator of Otherworld, stands in one of the more than 50 spaces that make up the immersive art experience in a 40,000-square-foot warehouse space in Northeast Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
The many elements inside the more than 50 unique scenes carved out of a 40,000-square-foot former retail space complicate, distract, confound, and ignore the supposed narrative backbone of Otherworld. Hundreds of artists and engineers contributed to the experience, which can come across as a kind of psychedelic Disneyland.