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Pink Floyd at the V&A: Wish you were here!

Sennheiser GuidePORT technology adds once again transforms V&A exhibition. And this time, there’s added AMBEO 3D too...

Sennheiser GuidePORT technology adds once again transforms V&A exhibition. And this time, there’s added AMBEO 3D too…

On Saturday 13 May, following years in the making, The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A). This major exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the band’s first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The exhibition is promoted by Michael Cohl and Iconic Entertainment Studios.

Their Mortal Remains, originally conceived by the late Storm Thorgerson and developed by Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, who worked closely with Pink Floyd’s own Nick Mason, is an audio-visual journey through 50 years of one of the world’s most iconic rock groups, and a rare and exclusive glimpse into the world of the band. The V&A curatorial team was led by Victoria Broackes, whose previous exhibitions include the highly successful David Bowie is, and last year’s You Say You Want a Revolution?

The exhibition draws together unique artefacts illustrating Pink Floyd’s relationship with music, art, design, technology and performance from every stage of their career and personal lives. It offers a rare glimpse of the band’s working methods, and plots their transition from a psychedelic pop group in the 1960s to the multi-platinum-selling albums band of the ’70s and beyond.

The exhibition also offers an in-depth look at the band’s instruments and technology. Several of David Gilmour’s guitars, including his famous Black Strat, are exhibited, alongside Richard Wright’s early-‘70s era Mini Moog synthesiser and a treasure trove of effects pedals, hand-painted drum heads, echo chambers and more. Filmed interviews with the band members explain how this equipment was used to create Pink Floyd’s ground-breaking and experimental sound on albums such as The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. Meanwhile, the exhibition’s three purpose-built mixing desks allow visitors to ‘mix’ their own customised version of the classic Floyd song Money.

The flow of the exhibition, in chronological order, is enhanced by music throughout and by the voices of past and present members of Pink Floyd, including David Gilmour, Mason, Roger Waters and the late Richard Wright explaining their experiences and musical experimentation via Sennheiser’s GuidePORT system. This culminates in the Performance Zone (fitted with 18 Neumann KH 420 mid-field monitor loudspeakers and seven KH 870 subwoofers), where visitors enter an immersive audio-visual space which includes the recreation of the very last performance of all four members of the band at Live8 with Comfortably Numb. The track was specially mixed at Abbey Road using Sennheiser’s ground-breaking AMBEO 3D, an immersive audio technology. Producers Simon Rhodes and Simon Franglen worked closely with Pink Floyd associate and recording engineer Andy Jackson to create the remix.

Overall responsibility for the installation and the audio guide programming on the Sennheiser side was with Robert Généreux, business director, System Design. “We are aiming at providing an audio experience unlike anything visitors have experienced before,” says Généreux.

Ahead of the official opening, newly appointed V&A director Tristram Hunt welcomed guests and collaborators to a special viewing of the exhibition. Sennheiser’s joint CEOs Daniel and Dr Andreas Sennheiser were in attendance, as well as other members and friends of the Sennheiser family.

(First and last image: Courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains)