Why Did the Sound System Company Sonos Create a Hollywood Art Gallery?
Sonos Studio set up with couches to bring back the social nature of listening to music
Last week, Sonos Studio presented the Los Angeles premiere of the new Green Day documentary ¡Cuatro!, and the band's followers enthusiastically turned out to the screening. The documentary, which chronicled a new beginning of sorts for the band, was an appropriate fit for the launch of a new line of programming at Hollywood's Sonos Studio, the almost-year-old multimedia gallery space.
¡Cuatro! ends with Billy Joe Armstrong's philosophical musing that there's a magic that happens when just wire, wood and steel -- the basic building blocks of instruments and sound -- turn into something that moves us. It's this same philosophy that is the focus of Sonos Studio, an outcrop of Sonos, the sound system.
Speaking with Sonos Studio's Ivan Entchevitch and Eric Nielsen over the phone from Scotland, where they're on official Sonos business, the two continually refer back to the trio of music, art and technology.
"It's really about going deeper," Ivan explains over the phone. "If we're doing a performance, we're also doing a Q & A after."
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They want the experience to go deeper by including not just sound art -- art where you listen to it, either in a space, through headphones, or other methods -- but the appeal of visual art and the "oooooh, cool!" moment when we see some new, life-altering technology. The studio is basically a white cube gallery space that happens to be designed acoustically, with walls canted at 7 degrees to bounce sound up toward the acoustic foam on the ceiling.
The creators also want to create a deeper experience through collaborations, listening parties, workshops, and film screenings. Wednesday night's screening of ¡Cuatro! was part of a new series of screenings called "PLAY," to promote Sonos' newest device, the PLAYBAR, which hooks into your television.
The documentary was presented amidst Sonos Studio's current installed exhibition, "Bugs," a collaboration between Dan Deacon and Tom Kuntz, which provided an unusual backdrop for the screening. Monoliths displaying fantastic buggy creatures playing an array of instruments lined the seating area set up for viewing. The audience could hear a composition by Dan Deacon that is constantly changing and shifting along with movement of the creatures. The pieces were turned off one by one as the lights went down to start the film.
A preview of "Bugs"
¡Cuatro! spliced together footage of Green Day in the studio, on the road and in other private moments to chronicle the experience working through their recently-released trio album set ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tre!. A Q & A with ¡Cuatro!'s director Tim Wheeler, producer Tim Lynch and other members of the production team included a discussion of the film's aesthetic, which drew strongly from surf films. The documentary has a light-hearted, fast moving pace, at once keeping up the youthful glow I always associate with the band, without seeming like a throwback.
One audience member remarked in the Q & A session, "Just when I thought I had outgrown Green Day, this film made them all seem relevant again." Not that the band has become irrelevant by any means, but for me, as I suspect in many others of my generation, Green Day represents a very specific point and time in my life.
Since they're aligned with Sonos-the-company, Sonos-the-studio is able to support the kind of endeavors that more traditional galleries might find cost-prohibitive. They had a well-stocked bar and catering from AOC restaurant at Wednesday's screening, which you will not find at more traditional gallery events.
"There are a lot of pieces to it." Ivan explains, still via Scotland, about the events. "We want to bring back the social nature of music and listening to music. The space is an epitome of that, and we want people to be bringing that home."
If you missed it, ¡Cuatro! will be screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival this week. "Bugs!" is on view Sonos Studio through May 5.
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