"Listening through the Lens" logo

Opened: 9 June, 2018
Closed: 29 October, 2018

Purpose: Exploring the impact of visual media on the experience of music through the work of music photographer Henry Diltz.

Content: The exhibition included 18 photographs by Henry Diltz. These images captured candid moments in the lives of notable musicians–all of whom would likely have been familiar with a significant portion of the Museum’s demographic–like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, and more. Supplementing the photographs were a small number of high-resolution scans from Diltz’s personal diaries from dates adjancent or directly related to the dates of the photographs. Excerpts of a video interview that I had with Diltz were also included in the presentation.

Setting: The gallery was configured to mimic an art/photography gallery, with photographs displayed on unadorned walls. As a play on the question of the relationship between music and visual media, and as a nod to the familiar outdoor landscapes featured in the photographs, a soundscape composed of field recordings from similar locations (meadows, city streets, farms, etc) was played from ceiling-mounted speakers. A feedback station invited visitors to answer the questions “What do these photographs sound like? What does your favorite music look like?” Perhaps predictably, responses to the questions were largely based on the familiarity of the visitors with the musicians photographed. Some responses referenced the political energy and turmoil of the 1960s and 70s–whether as direct lived experience or otherwise, while others invoked the work of the specific musicians pictured, while still more refered to the soundscape.

A short video of the exhibition near the end of installation: