I was keen to see the National Gallery’s Soundscapes, which has been curated by Minna Moore Ede, who organised the exhibition Metamorphosis in which three contemporary artists responded to Titian. This time she has got six contemporary composers and sound artists to respond the paintings in the National Gallery’s collection. The point is to get visitors to slow down, to listen as well as to look, and respond to art through all their senses. First is Gallen-Kallela’s Lake Keitele interpreted by Chris Watson, a sound engineer who recorded bird song not in Norway where there is too much sound pollution, but instead in Northumbria:-
Next is Holbein’s Ambassadors, which looks wonderful so artificially lit and as accompanied by Susan Philipsz on a violin without a string (I had never noticed that the lute in the painting has a broken string):-
Antonello’s Saint Jerome in his Study is interpreted elaborately (perhaps too literally) by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller:-
There is a very beautiful and highly intelligent setting of the Wilton Diptych by Nico Muhly, done with feeling:-
Cézanne is accompanied by a short score by Gabriel Yared:-
The exhibition ends with Théo van Rysselbergh’s Coastal Scene set to music by Jamie xx, a remix artist.
The whole exhibition has for some reason got up the nose of critics who have had an overdose of dyspepsia in writing about it. All it needs is time and attention and sympathy for its purpose, which is to stumulate more than one sense.