Triple Play: Björk, MoMA and VW

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VW engineers develop a special audio guide, Sound Journey, for a new exhibit at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art.

My geography sense is so off that when I heard Björk collaborated with VW, I thought Volvo would have made more likely partner. I mean Sweden, Iceland, practically the same, right?

Well, no.

In fact, the role of VW in MoMA’s newest exhibit has more to do with the car company’s long standing support of the Museum of Modern Art. And that makes sense, when you consider Berlin’s avant garde art scene.


Robots from the “All is Full of Love” video kind of resemble crash test dummies. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

But this collaboration is more about German engineering. Featuring a songwriter and performance artist in a mostly visual art museum is tricky, and one solution was an innovative audio guide.

This is where VW came in. The Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) developed an enhanced audio guide, based on its “Sound Journey” application developed for Volkswagen cars in Europe.

The audio guide, in the Songlines portion of the exhibit, senses what you are looking at – some of Björk’s outlandish costumes, her handwritten lyrics, and props from her music videos – and advances to where you are standing. So if you linger, the narrative will stop, then resume when you walk on; likewise, if you hurry through the retrospective, the audio guide will skip ahead.


Björk’s famous swan dress. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Michael Horn, President and CEO, Volkswagon Group of America, said the exhibit, “opens up new perspectives in its outstanding combination of imagination and technology.”  Imagination and technology – just the things we look for in new cars.

The MOMA installation is on display from March 8 to June 7.

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell