On September 23, the “David Bowie Is” exhibition makes its U.S. debut at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The exhibition, meticulously curated by the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London, explores the diverse work of a great artist of our time.
For each of the exhibits, including the MCA exhibit coming to Chicago in September, V&A has partnered with Sennheiser to help insure a memorable audio experience for visitors.
The exhibition takes visitors on a sonic and visual journey, retracing his creativity and influences from all areas of his art using a wealth of material — including videos, stage costumes, album covers, stage sets, photographs and of course his music. To develop the exhibit, curators Victoria Broackes (V&A) and Geoffrey Marsh were given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive, consisting of more than 70,000 pieces.
By leveraging Sennheiser guidePORT technology and 3D immersive sound simulation equipment, visitors are left with an unforgettable experience that explores the essence of Bowie. Sennheiser guidePORT expert Robert Généreux is on site to install and configure the system at MCA.
In preparation for the exhibition, each museum visitor is given a pair of Sennheiser headphones and a guidePORT receiver, enabling them to walk freely into 25 different “display zones.” Inside a control room behind the scenes, Sennheiser is constantly broadcasting 25 live audio streams through transmitters that are perfectly mapped to the floor plan of the exhibit.
Each time a visitor walks towards a different display, the relevant audio stream activates, broadcasting high-quality audio through corresponding antennas located nearby. Small trigger units called “identifiers” located throughout the exhibit are able to recognize the geo-location of each visitor and pick up the appropriate audio stream.
In addition to the streaming audio occuring throughout the exhibit, visitors are also invited to experience a 3D audio spectacle, consisting of Bowie concerts from over the years and an exclusive “mash up” of his songs, created by Tony Visconti, Bowie’s long-time producer. The immersive audio experience is made possible by a special 3D upmix algorithm created by Gregor Zielinsky, Sennheiser international recording applications manager, and the experience is delivered through an array of hidden loudspeakers from Neumann