Lisson Gallery

'Last chance to see: Devon Turnbull’s ‘HiFi Listening Room Dream No. 1’ at Lisson Gallery, London' – Wallpaper*

18 August 2023

Devon Turnbull/OJAS’ handmade sound system matches minimalist aesthetics with a profound audiophonic experience – he tells us more

Wallpaper*: As a musician, I really appreciated being able to sit in a room and experience music in its ‘purest’ form.

Devon Turnbull: For me, the final end product – the mastered album – is really the masterpiece. It's the most perfected version of the artist’s vision when they make a musical work. It’s surprising that this doesn’t just exist in every museum: a space where you can appreciate recorded music artworks. I’m very careful, though, to tell people that I’m not a conceptual artist: the work that you see in the gallery, and what you listen to, is the product of 20 years of work. The technical side of it is a very deep, long journey. But at the same time, there is a conceptual side that seems to really resonate with people.

W*: Why do you think it resonates so much at the moment?

DT: One reason is that the consumer electronics industry has really dumbed down. High-end audio has become a very small fringe market. It’s crazy to me, but a lot of people in their thirties seem to have almost no experience of listening to a properly set up stereo reproduction system. The experience of three-dimensional sound is kind of a new experience to them. I went through a similar journey back in the early 2000s, when the first iPod came out: back then, the only way to put music on an iPod was to rip CDs to low-quality mp3 files. As a culture, we went through a period of audio quality degradation, followed by listening to music more passively. Now you discover music through some algorithm, and it just plays, but you don't sit down and listen to it and emotionally connect with it. I found that the music I was listening to changed as well; it became more like catchy background pop music as opposed to really great classical music performances or jazz.

W*: Music that challenges you a bit perhaps asks you to be more of a participant.

DT: That's true, [it] requires some deeper thought and analysis in order to be appreciated. That just doesn't happen with the AirPods on the go. In the ‘Listening Room’, I see people have this very deep emotional response a lot of the time. It’s not uncommon to see people crying; I think some people have that response to really powerful music. But other people have mentioned to me that they also were just struck by sadness, because they realise that they've been missing out on this really valuable experience. A lot of people just said: ‘It's not even about the equipment at that point, it’s more, why don't I just sit down and listen?’

Read the interview in full via Wallpaper*.

'Devon Turnbull: HiFi Listening Room Dream No. 1 and other works' continues at Lisson Gallery in London through 26 August.

'Last chance to see: Devon Turnbull’s ‘HiFi Listening Room Dream No. 1’ at Lisson Gallery, London' – Wallpaper*
Click here for more In the Press
We use cookies on our website to improve your experience. You can find out why by reading our privacy policy. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies Privacy Policy