The Horniman Museum

“The Body Adorned: Dressing London” Exhibition Explores London Aesthetics with AV Technology
London, UK

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The Horniman Museum’s “The Body Adorned: Dressing London” exhibition explores the aesthetic choices made in dress and style in London today. Innovative audio-visual methods provided by Electrosonic are central to the exhibit and offer insight into the human body as a canvas, and how it has become part of London life. The temporary exhibition was timed to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics and examines the question: how do you dress the body and why?

The Body Adorned

The exhibition reveals how a diverse metropolitan population clothes and adorns their bodies, which can include saris, tattoos, fingernails, piercings and scarification. The Horniman Museum has combined hundreds of stunning objects from its collections, including adorned figures, early tattooing instruments and headdresses, a video installation and actual wardrobes of residents.

The Body Adorned

The centerpiece of “The Body Adorned” is The Light Surgeons’ video production, which combines a large projected image that appears to have been shot looking out through a shop window onto a busy street. Electrosonic provided the main screen, overhead speakers and four portrait-format LCD monitors that feature individual characters, who interact with each other and the main display. Describing Electrosonic’s AV contributions to the exhibit, Neill Richardson of Objectives said, “The installation was efficiently co-ordinated with the designers, exhibition contractors and museum staff and achieved all the desired visual effects with spectacular results”.

Urban Portraits

Two exhibits take the form of slide shows. One show is comprised of actual 19th century magic lantern slides from the museum’s collection. The other, “Urban Portraits”, is a video by Paul Halliday of Goldsmith’s College, whom the museum commissioned to work with a group of young photographers and artists exploring dress style.

What's In Your Wardrobe?

Electrosonic also provided touchscreens and overhead sound domes for three interactive exhibits, which explore topics such as “What’s in Your Wardrobe?”

Throughout “The Body Adorned”, Electrosonic was challenged to make maximum use of the museum’s existing equipment inventory so costs could be kept reasonable. The bulk of the gear needed was already available from the museum and had been used in previous exhibitions, including “Bali: Dancing for the Gods”.

The Body Adorned

Electrosonic treated “The Body Adorned” as a completely new installation and engineered it as if it were a permanent exhibition. The project benefited from the long-term relationship between Electrosonic and The Horniman Museum, and demonstrated Electrosonic’s deep understanding of customer needs and the ability to offer full life cycle services, which protect customer investments.

The Horniman Museum

“We have had a long and very successful relationship with Electrosonic and were happy when they won the last tender process”, says the museum’s head of exhibitions, Maria Ragan. “We needed a company that could work well with the software developers and filmmaker, and the Electrosonic teams dealt with [them] very effectively”.

Apart from the centerpiece video by The Light Surgeons, AV content for the interactives and screens was created by Spiral Productions. The exhibition was designed by Neil Richardson of Objectives.