Sennheiser Provides Sound for Bowie Art Exhibit

Sennheiser Provides Sound for Bowie Art Exhibit
  • Digital Signage and Digital Art installations often avoid an audio component. Sennheiser’s recent installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario provides a refreshing example of audio that's essential to an installation.

Art Gallery of Ontario, Grange Park Exterior (photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario)


After a successful run at the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, the “David Bowie is” exhibition is now touring other leading venues of art and design around the globe. The next stop is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Canada, one of the most important art museums in North America. “David Bowie is” will be on view in Toronto from September 25 to November 27, 2013. As at the V&A, which curated this exhibition, audio specialist Sennheiser is working with the AGO to ensure an immersive sound experience for visitors. Sennheiser’s guidePORT audio guide system and an elaborate 3D sound installation will again be an integral part of the exhibition.

During its 5-month run in London, the “David Bowie is” multimedia exhibition broke all V&A records: the museum sold more than 67,000 tickets prior to the opening, over three times the advance sales of any other exhibition at the museum before. In total, more than 300,000 people visited the first international retrospective of David Bowie’s work in music, fashion, art, theatre and film.

Integrating more than 300 objects from Bowie’s personal archive, including original stage costumes, handwritten lyrics, album covers and photos, the exhibition celebrates Bowie’s 50-year career.

A highlight of the visitor experience is the two 3D surround simulations that evoke the sound and feel of a live concert. Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti commented on the unique audio experience, “I swear I don’t know how they do it. This is magic to me. Things were coming from over my head, down by my feet, over my right shoulder, over my left shoulder, in front of me, to the sides of me.”

Gregor Zielinsky, International Recording Applications Manager at Sennheiser, made this sound experience possible by upmixing old mono and stereo material using a special algorithm. Currently on site at AGO to fine-tune the experience for visitors to the venue, Zielinsky explained the setup, “There are two multi-channel music experiences at the exhibition. No. 1 is a huge screen installation with live concert material by Bowie, and we also have a collage of Bowie songs arranged by Tony Visconti. The audio is played through hidden Neumann and K+H speakers.”

The guidePORT audio guide ensures an immersive audio experience for visitors.


In addition to the 3D installations, Sennheiser also equipped the AGO with an audio guide system. A guidePORT system will provide visitors with all soundtracks, music and video sound throughout the tour, taking them on a journey through Bowie’s music, art, and fashion. The system automatically plays the audio when the visitor approaches an exhibit, thus enabling the guests to enjoy an individual tour and to explore the exhibition in whatever order and at any pace. Sennheiser’s guidePORT expert Robert Généreux is on site to install and configure the system at the AGO.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate a living artist whose radical artfulness of identity has had an enormous influence on art, design and contemporary culture as we know it,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “We are thrilled to have the assistance of Sennheiser in creating a truly immersive experience, allowing our visitors to delve into the provocative genius and vision of David Bowie.”

Daniel Sennheiser, CEO of the Sennheiser Group, said, “The ‘David Bowie is’ exhibition recreates the unique ‘universe’ of music, fashion and art that this performer created. It has been a success in London, and I’m delighted that the Art Gallery of Ontario is now bringing this exhibition to North America. With its innovative architecture, the AGO is a perfect venue for ‘David Bowie is’, providing an ideal setting for this multi-media retrospective, where everybody can relive or discover their very own personal Bowie experience.”

After its run in Toronto, the following museums and dates have been confirmed for “David Bowie is”: