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Renowned composers add soundscapes to painted masterpieces

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Soundscapes sees six contemporary composers recontextualizing selected paintings through sound art and music installations.

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London’s National Gallery is usually shrouded in a respectful hush as visitors quietly contemplate the centuries old masterpieces on display. But a new exhibition called Soundscapes is set to change all that this summer: the show sees six contemporary composers recontextualizing six paintings through sound art and music installations. We recently wrote about an exhibition in Madrid, which shifted art lovers’ focus from sight to touch using 3D replicas of famous paintings. Soundscapes is another example of institutions encouraging visitors to reassess art from a different angle.

The participating sound artists are Nico Muhly, Susan Phillipsz, Gabriel Yared, Jamie xx, Chris Watson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. They have, in individual rooms, created soundscapes to accompany paintings by artists including Paul Cezanne and Akseli Gallen-Kallela. These sound art pieces range from natural sounds to electronic music and overlapping eerie tones, and the temporal nature of them encourage visitors to take time with the artworks offline. The new works are site-specific and can only be experienced in conjunction with the painting that inspired them — they cannot be heard online.


Soundscapes is at the National Gallery until September 6th and tickets are GBP 10. How else could galleries use senses other than sight to enhance visitors’ experiences?



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