Friday, May 10, 2024

The Art of Noise at SFMOMA

An entertaining exhibit called The Art of Noise has just taken over the 7th floor of SFMOMA.
I was afraid they would be trotting out the same old psychedelic Fillmore posters from the 1960s, and there is a whole wall of those along with a huge array of analog album covers...
...but the bulk of the show is devoted to musical playback devices from the last century.
The design and engineering of music reproduction machines is fascinating. Pictured above are the 1912 Thomas Edison Fireside Model B cylinder phonograph and the 1935 RCA Victor Special Model K phonograph designed by John Vassos.
There is also a gorgeous 1947 Rock-Ola 1426 Jukebox from Chicago.
The 1960s brought exquisite, sleek design to High Fidelity as evidenced by this 1962 Wall Unit designed by Dieter Rams for Braun in Frankfurt.
Everyone will have their own Proustian madeleine moment walking through this exhibit, and one of mine was seeing the 901 Speaker designed in 1968 by Amar Bose in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Also featured is an historic unit used for 1980s DJ sets in Compton, California from Technics in Osaka, Japan: the 1979 SL1200MK2 turntables along with the 1984 DM-1450 mixer and preamplifier.
Another Japanese product is the JVC RC-M90 Boombox, from 1981.
There is also an area where you can relax on divans with headphones attached to 21st century playback devices.
In the space usually employed for videos, the HiFi Pursuit Listening Room Dream No. 2 installation has been created by the famous audio engineer Devon Turnbull (OJAS). A DJ was playing tracks on turntables from various jazz albums with the purest analog sound imaginable. Because of a strong preference for live music, I have never been much of a High Fidelity enthusiast, but for many people it was an all-consuming passion. So if you are any kind of audio fetishist, this exhibit is sheer pleasure.

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