Soundscapes: Giving Voice to Art

Can apparently mute artworks speak? Anyone has probably experienced the effect of a powerful work of art, causing the surrounding world to cease to exist, only to focus on the what the artwork spoke in the most intimate of ways, to us. This, somewhat inexplicable, capability of works of art to speak that particular language of our mind (or soul?) is the subject of an exhibition titled Soundscapes at the National Gallery in London. Quite literally the exhibition gives voice to the works of art from National Gallery’s collection by commissioning musicians and sound artists to respond to a painting of their choice through a sound installation.

The work of Nico Muhly, Susan Philipsz, Gabriel Yared, Jamie xx, Chris Watson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller is thus displayed in a soundproofed room in the exhibition space in which their chosen painting and their new sound or musical piece is installed. These encounters between the visual and the sonic offer visitors an opportunity to experience and think about paintings in an entirely new way: to hear the music within the painting, and to see the visual within the music. Ambitious in its approach, this cross-disciplinary exhibition aims to celebrate the National Gallery’s collection and demonstrate how masterpieces from the collection continue to inspire living artists today. By allowing familiar paintings to be encountered and contemplated from a new angle, visitors will be encouraged to rethink their perception of the selected paintings and explore wider conversations about how we experience art and the affinities that exist between music and painting.

The Blogazine