Artist Wassily Kandinsky. Photo: Marian Abboud

Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Exhibitions, Gallery & Museums.

In a collaboration with Sydney Festival 2019 and Force Majeure, and to complement the current Masters Of Modern Art From The Hermitage exhibition, the Art Gallery of NSW is presenting a truly immersive sensory experience: Masters Of Modern Sound. For three consecutive nights the normally dark, still gallery interior will be lit up and reverberating with music and movement. 

Musicians, composers, sound designers, and dancers from Australia and around the globe have been commissioned to create original pieces inspired by artworks. They will perform the pieces at various locations throughout the gallery. To add to the experience Chiswick At The Gallery will present a pop-up bar for the evening with wine, beer and delicious finger food designed by head chef Tim Brindley.

Among the artists performing will be collaborative trio Becky Sui Zhen, Corin Ileto and Casey Hartnett, whose instruments, collectively, include piano, synthesisers and a Therevox (similar to a theremin) among others. They all share a desire to create atmosphere and emotion “where people who are listening aren’t being told what to think necessarily, but there’s enough space that their minds can wander,” says Sui Zhen. 

Sui Zhen has skills across music, production, songwriting as well as directing visuals, video and photography. Her art strongly integrates emerging technologies and she’s interested in how technology connects different platforms and disciplines. She has been working with Francesca Ford from the Art Gallery to redefine the audio guide experience and “bring music into that space to connect people more with the art.”

Sui Zhen, Ileto and Hartnett have composed music based on a detailed brief and in response to the curatorial themes of each room. They each brought ideas, fragments from unused works and new brain-stormed concepts to create unique compositions for a fully customised experience. The result is an interactive audio guide or downloadable app with location detection software that triggers a specific soundtrack when a particular room is entered. Listeners can choose to have a narrator describe the works along with the music, or listen to only one or the other. Sui Zhen believes music can “make things a bit more accessible because it’s a more intimate experience, it helps [people] focus on one thing.” The trio, along with other artists, will be performing their compositions live during the three-day festival event. 

“As I understand it we’re going to be performing in the Gaughin room or near the Picasso which is going to be crazy to be performing in the proximity of these really famous artworks,” says Sui Zhen. She’s excited about the event:

“To allow people into the art gallery at night for these kinds of performances is a pretty special opportunity for everyone involved.”

Until Jan 12. Art Gallery Of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney. $65+b.f. Tickets & Info:


By Rita Bratovich