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World first: ‘listen’ to priceless paintings

Friday 5 October 2018

In a world first, visitors to the State Library of NSW from today will be able to ‘listen’ to rare and priceless paintings from the Library’s collection.

‘80Hz: Sound Lab’ is an innovative outdoor sound and light experience that will be launched alongside the State Library’s new galleries where major parts of the Library’s collection will go on permanent display, including 300 paintings.

“Where else can you look at a picture, then listen to it? It’s quite remarkable and I’m thrilled visitors can experience this for the first time at the State Library,” says State Librarian, Dr John Vallance.

‘80Hz: Sound Lab’ was created by DX Lab fellow Thomas Wing‐Evans, in collaboration with the Library’s DX Lab, who developed a digital sonic tool that translates visual information into sound.

“The sonic tool works by identifying different tones, complexities and colours in works, as well as metadata like location and date, and then a soundscape was developed for each painting based on these parameters,” says Paula Bray, DX Lab Lead.

To develop the project, Thomas and the DX Lab collaborated with the best creatives in their field – Sonar Sound – to create a beautiful outdoor experience on the forecourt of the historic Mitchell Building.

“80Hz: Sound Lab takes the form of architectural data sculptures where people can enjoy listening to the soundscapes of 44 selected works from the Paintings from the Collection permanent exhibition,” says Ms Bray.

Download full media release (126KB PDF)