Wolfgang Tillmans Opens a Gallery for Music

Wolfgang Tillmans Photo: Hpschaefer via Wikimedia Commons
Wolfgang Tillmans Photo: Hpschaefer via Wikimedia Commons

Eminent photographer Wolfgang Tillmans isn’t thrilled with the state of music listening today. Our music libraries may be practically endless thanks to a new generation of streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, and Beats. But the quality of the sound that reaches our ears has dropped to a fraction of what once was, thanks to measly speakers on ultra-thin laptops and the white earbuds that have dotted the urban landscape since the iPod was introduced in 2001.

So, Tillmans has turned the Berlin exhibition space that he runs, called Between Bridges, into a listening room fit for the most persnickety of audiophiles. Launched last Friday with an six-week run of the British ’80s sampling pioneers Colourbox, the space will treat pop music with the same reverence given to contemporary art.

For Tillmans, who started his photographic career shooting London’s and Berlin’s rave scene in the early 90s, the space is a chance to re-expose listeners to the breadth of sound that often goes unheard when listening to a track through mainstream speakers or headphones. “Some records are just perfect artworks, but you just cannot go anywhere to listen to the way the musicians heard it at the mastering stage,” he told the Guardian.

He’s fitted the “playback room,” as he calls it, with a pair of top-of-the-line Bowers & Wilkins speakers, lounge chairs, and turned down the otherwise-glaring gallery lights to a dim, ambient glow. One perhaps surprising omission is a turntable; the artist says he prefers CD-quality sound. Future bands haven’t been announced, but Tillmans plans to continue the series after this first entrée back into serious listening concludes on October 25.


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