Bjork Creates First-ever Augmented Audio Guide To Accompany MoMa Retrospective

The first-ever augmented audio guide has been created to accompany a new retrospective exhibition of the Icelandic artist Bjork, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Although the exhibition has not been well received by critics the actual audio guide is groundbreaking and provides an intimate sound experience customized by each visitor. Developed through a collaborative research program between MoMA, Björk, the VWGoA Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley, California, and the German sound agencies Klangerfinder and S12 it contains a suite of advanced audio technologies working with a range of international collaborators, helping to achieve the creative vision for the show.

The exhibition draws from more than 20 years of the artist’s daring and innovative career, beginning with her eight full-length albums and multiple collaborations with directors, photographers, designers, artists and other experimental practitioners, culminating in a new immersive music and film experience commissioned by MoMA. The exhibition is conceived and organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator-at-Large at MoMA and Director of MoMA PS1.

The audio guides innovative technology is based on the application “Sound Journey”, which generates a personalized sound track using data gathered from driver inputs such as rate of acceleration/deceleration, steering angle of the steering wheel, and vehicle speed. With Sound Journey as a platform, the augmented audio guide for the Björk retrospective creates a 3D listening experience by building on the combination of signal processing, location-based trigger points, and movements of each individual visitor to create a customizable experience for each visitor of the exhibit.

The sophisticated Bjork audio guide software uses Bluetooth® signals emitted from transmitters that are seamlessly integrated into the design of the exhibition, location information, and a tracker that monitors the head movement to provide the visitor with a unique experience. The specially developed music and narrative content was composed and created by Björk and the Icelandic author Sjón, and directed and narrated by the Icelandic actress and storyteller Margrét Vilhjámsdóttir.

Tina Unterländer, Head of Operations, Volkswagen Group of America Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California, explains: “Just as Björk’s work revolutionized the world of music, the team at the ERL strives daily to delight our customers by creating experiences supported by new breakthrough innovations. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with Bjork to develop a new pioneering form of augmented audio technology that will provide MoMA visitors with an unparalleled 3D audio experience unlike any other.”

“Our goal was to create a personalized experience of the narrative for our visitors,” said Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator-at-Large at MoMA and Director of MoMA PS1, who is organizing the exhibition. “The exhibition’s augmented audio guide marries scientific research with sound and music composition to create an immersive experience. We were thrilled to collaborate with our partners at VW, and their Electronic Research Lab, and to benefit from their innovative technology.”

MoMA presents Bjork, a retrospective, dedicated to the multifaceted work of the singer, composer and musician, from March 8 – June 7, 2015.

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