Artist Doug Aitken first visited the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 2009, on the invitation of its director Richard Koshalek to conceive an entirely mirrored reading room in the lower lobby. Aitken had barely stepped out of the taxi before turning the creative brief inside-out. When he saw the curvy building on the National Mall'a hollow cylinder raised on four piers designed by Gordon Bunshaft and completed in 1974'Aitken recalls, 'My mind raced to the other side of the spectrum: If we have this phenomenal building that's very monolithic in its form and structure, then can we make it almost liquid architecture?'
The result of his musing is Song 1, a series of musical vignettes, for which Aitken projects high-definition video on the entirety of the Hirshhorn's precast concrete facade, a surface measuring 82 feet high and 725 feet around its circumference. The total image size is 1,080 pixels tall by 13,444 pixels wide and requires 11 high-definition video projectors to achieve full coverage of the building elevation. Song 1 is said to be the first 360-degree convex projection in cinematic history.