Ocean Liners: Speed & Style is a brand new exhibition at the V&A, which re-imagines the golden age of ocean travel. This exhibition explores the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale, covering all aspects of ship design from groundbreaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard. Hosted within Gallery 39 and the North Court, visitors embark on a grand voyage through five key themes; Promotion, Politics of Style, Engineering, Life on Board and The Metaphor of the Liner . As they journey across these spaces, they encounter an extensive showcase of over 250 fascinating exhibits including paintings, sculpture and ship models in addition to objects from shipyards, wall panels, furniture, fashion, textiles, photographs, posters and film.
Throughout the exhibition, discreetly mounted loudspeakers are subtly blended with the environment to deliver multiple audio soundscapes; each perfectly matched to the themed space and corresponding narrative. The familiar coastal sounds of birds, distant waves and music from bygone eras carry visitors back in time to a lost age of glitz and glamour onboard, bringing with it a sense of reminiscence. The soundscape is further amplified and heightened in Engineering, with an active subwoofer creating heavy reverberations and depth of sound, mimicking an authentic engine room setting. As the visitor travels through the exhibition, so too does the accompanying adjoining audio.
Interspersed amongst the exhibits are archival photographs, movie footage and other media presented through LCD displays and projections, offering more context and animated insight in to the evolution of Ocean Travel. A rare preview of the Queen Mary is presented in Politics of Style where the ship’s interiors can be admired through a portrait projection displayed on to an elevated angular screen. French Art Deco Liners are shown alongside, to offer an additional perspective in to the beautiful ship design and intricate decoration.
Life on Board transports visitors back to the age of glamour, beauty and style with creative setworks, grand installations and magnificent exhibits. Entering the space, the Seascape Panorama comprises of two seamlessly blended short throw laser projections that are perfectly scaled and overlaid with the setworks to deliver a beautiful sea view. As visitors stroll aboard the ship decking, they can stand at the railings and gaze out to sea watching a cruise liner glide across the ocean of this sunny daydream scene.
As daytime disappears, the grandiose evening dinner and dance ensues. The decadence, glamour and nighttime romance of Grande Descente is recreated with 4 synchronised projections of a man and woman dressed in their evening attire descending a staircase. With projection screens suspended asymmetrically amongst a night sky of LED starry walls, the looping media content and perfect geometry correction are attributed to the 6-channel rack mounted watchout server. The Grande Descente provided a spectacular stage for social display and is beautifully re-enacted in this feature display that forms a bold backdrop to this space.
As the voyage draws to a close, The Metaphor of the Liner focuses on nostalgia, bringing reference to one of the most iconic stories in history with the display of a wooden panel fragment from an overdoor in the first-class lounge on Titanic. Restricted by the fragility and sensitivity of this object, lighting levels were carefully considered to safeguard this beautiful artefact. As a result, this small remnant sits beneath 2 ceiling mounted projectors, which harmoniously merges a projected visual of flowing water referencing the wounded and fractured ship that still remains submerged under water. This creative visual overlay with powerful connotations translates the
key narrative into something reminiscent, capturing not just the popular fascination with that fateful ship but a deep longing for a lost age.
Working closely with the design teams ensured a strong connection with their vision to create a dramatic, decadent and memorable exhibition. Understanding the exhibits, setworks and artefacts enabled a careful and considered approach to the incorporation of audiovisual technology ensuring a sensitive solution that would enhance, but not damage any of these delicate pieces. Sysco were contracted to deliver the layers of audiovisual solutions around the museum by Empty SL, working closely with Flemming Associates and Casson Mann to develop the design and integrate the technology seamlessly amongst artefacts and exhibits. The interactive media was creatively designed by Lightmap, with lighting provided by Studio ZNA and the White Wall Company.
Sysco Productions is a world class experience delivery company, working for high calibre global clients in the museum & heritage, exhibition, and sports & leisure industries. For 20 years Sysco has worked at the heart of the creative profession and has built up a wealth of exceptional expertise working at the intersection between storytelling art and engineering science. Sysco delivers projects across the UK and Worldwide, with the Head Office and Research and Development centre based in Godalming, Surrey. As ‘Story Engineers’, Sysco believe that space is both the challenge and the opportunity to tell a beautiful story. In exhibitions, museums, stadia or theatres, space provides a blank canvas to engineer a story and is the foundation for re-imagination. www.syscoproductions.com
Project Key Partners:
● Casson Mann (Designers)
● Flemming Associates (Project Managers)
● Empty SL (Fit-out Contractors)
● The White Wall Company (Setworks)
● Lightmap (Media)
● Studio ZNA (Lighting)