New York, NY – The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newest exhibit “Impossible Conversations” features a series of imagined conversations between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian-born fashion designers who lived in different eras and never actually conversed. For exhibit designers, “impossible” took on another meaning: in a sound reflective gallery, these conversations would be impossible to experience with traditional speakers due to the acoustical challenges of the space. Brown Innovations made these conversations possible by introducing custom designed directional speakers to ensure the exchanges are heard clearly without overlap. Never before has fashion sounded so good.
“You feel like you’re eavesdropping,” said Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition who coupled iconic designs by Schiaparelli and Prada with videos in which their make-believe exchanges are heard. Visitors experience a succession of different digital discussions as they walk the exhibit‘s narrow corridor.
Remarkably, none of the conversations interfere with one another. “The exhibit was designed with an incredibly challenging acoustic specification,” said Kevin Brown, head engineer at Brown Innovations. “The space has granite floors, acrylic walls, and sheet rock ceiling. I used every trick I could think of to focus sound where it needed to go.” A sharp drop-off is heard when visitors exit each listening zone, which creates the feeling of stepping out of one fashion world and into another as they pass through the exhibit.
Ultimately, directional audio creates a surreal effect – underscoring the exhibition’s aim to demonstrate how the fashion designers, though separated by decades, were nevertheless similarly influenced by happenings in the art world. “Given the role Surrealism and other art movements play in the designs of both Schiaparelli and Prada, it seems only fitting that their inventive creations be explored here at the Met,” said the museum’s Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell.” The exhibition comes to life through the audio clarity and focus provided by Brown Innovations.
The exhibition is made possible by Amazon, with additional support provided by Condé Nast. Brown Innovations develops and deploys directional speaker and focused audio technologies for digital signage, museum, kiosk, retail, and tradeshow applications. For more information visit BrownInnovations.com.