Lou Reed Listening Room brings immersive auditory experience to new exhibition

Ozgur Gungor Ozgur Gungor Americas Press Office,New York
9 June 2022

Opening this June at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars is the first large-scale exhibition of the musician’s archive, displaying the life and work of the icon whose profound impact—musically, visually, and culturally—still influences a range of artists and writers today.

In addition to archival materials, the exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to experience a wide range of Reed’s technologically innovative discography in the Lou Reed Listening Room, designed and programmed by Arup in close collaboration with the exhibition curators Don Fleming and Jason Stern. This immersive space allows visitors to hear works in the original intended format including mono, stereo, quadraphonic and ambisonic spatial audio with accompanying light and visual installation. Most notably, the room enables Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe, a sound installation developed in 2012 by Reed and Arup, to be experienced in New York for the first time.

Arup’s partnership with Reed began in 2009, when Raj Patel, Arup Fellow and Creative Director of the Lou Reed Listening Room, met the musician through a friend who recognized their mutual interest in high fidelity audio and innovative recording technology. Reed and Patel developed a collaborative relationship with time spent discussing and engaging in the Arup SoundLab. Reed invited Patel and the Arup team to record a two-night run at the Blender Theater of his performance of Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe, with the intention of using this recording as basis for an immersive installation and record release. On completion, a concept was developed with Reed’s input and approval, and the installation was presented at California State Long Beach University Art Museum in 2012 and Cranbrook Art Museum in 2015. 

The Lou Reed Listening Room was designed to put the listener at the heart of the music, to experience the physical sensations of the creation, and to understand what was driving the performer. This was the key thing Lou was seeking to achieve from this project. Rather than just amplifying a recording of a performance or studio session, it was envisioned as a point of departure, the start of a future of what we could expect from immersive music-listening experiences. ” Raj Patel Raj Patel Principal

The Lou Reed Listening Room is in many ways the late artist’s New York “homecoming,” and Arup’s facilitation and diligence has endeavored to deliver an experience in line with his preferences and expectations as developed through their expansive discussions from 2008-2012. With his passing in 2013, the partnership has taken on a new level of significance, with the Listening Room now becoming an extension of the artist’s sonic ambitions and legacy.

As part of Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars, the Listening Room is on view at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts from June 9, 2022, through January 7, 2023.