Björk’s Immersive Audio Experience

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Björk stimulates my music technologist sensibilities with her innovative design complemented by intriguing uses of technology and sound.

I don’t know exactly who the MoMA audience is, to be honest, but I’ve been having an imaginary audience, which is sort of the average person who doesn’t listen to music that much. She goes on a weekend trip with her family to MoMA and discovers sound a little bit, and she thinks, Oh, I actually love this. Sound waves going through my body: It feels nice! I’m going to listen to some more music. – Björk, from a recent interview with Rob Runner of Fast Company Magazine 

The Björk MoMA Retrospective was architected by chief curator Klaus Biesenbach.

One particular technology immersion, among many in the exhibition is the centerpiece, “Songlines,” fascinates me greatly. It is a 40 minute sensory audio journey through Björk’s music and psyche. Visitors wear headphones (see more below about the specifics) connected to Bluetooth beacons, which find them through the space, cuing the proper songs and visuals. The technology was adapted by Volkswagen, a sponsor of the show, from a hands-free program it made to soundtrack driving.

Headphone audio pioneer Dysonics today announced that its Bluetooth-enabled motion sensor, RondoMotion, will be used for the immersive audio section of the Björk exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), March 8, 2015 – June 7, 2015.

RondoMotion is the world’s first wireless motion sensor for headphones. Björk is a retrospective that draws from more than 20 years of the artist’s daring and creative career, offering an experience of music in many layers, with instruments, a theatrical presentation, an immersive sound experience, a focused audio guide, and related visualizations.

RondoMotion attaches easily to any over-the-ear headphones, immersing listeners in a reactive, dynamic audio environment. Björk attendees will wear Bowers & Wilkins headphones equipped with a RondoMotion sensor, and will enter a 360 degree motion-tracked audio environment that syncs with striking visual elements as they move throughout the exhibit’s “Songlines” section.

Image: Justin Lane/EPA

“Accurately tracking listener head movement with RondoMotion allowed our team to create a new level of immersion and engagement for listeners experiencing the Björk ‘Songlines’ psychoacoustic augmented audio installation at MoMA,” said Björk “Songlines” project collaborator Andrew Melchior.

 

Björk/MoMA

Björk’s MoMA Exhibition

Courtesy of New Museum, New York/Benoit Pailley

Björk’s exhibition at MoMA in New York City opens to the public this weekend on Sunday March 8th. My interest in music technology is peaking about how this exhibit has been curated and constructed. I will be writing a separate blog post about Björk’s projects from a technology design perspective later today.

Suffice it to say we are eager to attend this multimedia retrospective in the near future. My understanding is that only 100 people can attend at a scheduled interval. Which I am fine with as I dislike crowded MoMA Exhibitions.

I have included the teaser video of “Black Lake” from Vulnicura for your viewing and listening benefit.

Björk’s Black Lake Trailer – MoMAvideos

“Black Lake” is a new sound and video installation commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art on the occasion of the exhibition Björk (March 8–June 7, 2015; Member Previews, March 4–7). The song “Black Lake” appears on Björk’s new album “Vulnicura” (2015).

“Black Lake” is described by Rolling Stone as an “immersive 10-minute music and film experience” It is a collaboration between director Thomas Huang, who worked with the artist on her video for Mutual Core and 3D design company Autodesk.

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