The US Open Sessions


IBM and the US Open have been working together for decades, curious as to what they were doing? Well that was our brief, to demonstrate to the power of the IBM Cloud. We created the U.S. Open Sessions—an experimental project that turned tennis data collected via the IBM Cloud into real-time music. Yep. At Ogilvy NY we worked with James Murphy (the prolific producer and LCD Soundsystem frontman) to get the sounds and the stellar production agency TOOL to create the algorithm.  

The project involved a bucket-full of elements such as an interactive website where fans, users et all could listen to the music and watch the matches created in  graphics in real time, campaigns (for Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora and Google Play), an exhibition space at the US Open, posters, videos and even a music album.


400 hours of music was generated by an algorithm; the data was pulled from each individual  match and with assigned sounds from James (match points, deuce, game, set and so on, all got a sound). As if the music thing wasn't enough, we created a website which worked in time to the scores of the match which graphics and the beats of the music. Perfect for fans who want to leave a window open while working. Not that I condone that... 


Along side each match aka track, we commissioned a series of illustrators from all over the world to create a unique cover for the hundreds of matches (which added up to over 100). How do you stay on brand, off brand?

I found it an interesting challenge, to direct several hundred pieces of artwork by a series of different artist that all felt IBM, but still Felt unique. First off, we contacted a talented bunch of illustrators whom I'd been creeping on for a long time, so I knew they'd be good in a time crunch and have a stunning style. Such as Karan Singh, Skip Hursh, and Will Byrant. I set up the brief, distributed the color palette and wrote the rules—the constraints of our system but the wide open canvas everyone had to play with.


Sometimes shit hits the fan. When it's 3am and you find you need another 15 covers which all look entirely different, so you stay up, sip Red Bull and start imagining your boyfriend's beard or lava lamps.


We worked with James to create an album of remixes of the best tracks from the tournament. James went hard at it, mixing 12 of his favorite matches to put out a pretty legit album that was powered by IBM Cloud. It was a mix of the most interesting matches (score-wise, and musically).  While camped out in Flushing in Queens for the tournament I designed album covers.


During the tournament at the US Open we have a series of posters around the site as well as a soundbooth.


Our brief was to demonstrate the power of IBM Cloud, which can do pretty much anything. It became a tool to organize everybody who was working on the project and played host (bad pun, sorry) to all of the music itself. It didn't just live in a computer or phone either. Up at the grounds of the US Open we created and designed a listening booth for people to come and experience the music with big-ass sound-domes.