The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the Victoria and Albert Museum
To the average Millennial, the band Pink Floyd might seem as out-of-touch with the current musical age as a psychedelic exhibition in a Victorian museum. The Pink Floyd Exhibition - Their Mortal Remains, staged in the elaborate Victoria and Albert Museum follows the progress and success of the iconic rock group from their founding in 1965 to the Live 8 concert in 2005. But what can the under-thirty age group with little awareness of Pink Floyd gain from the exhibition?
Naturally, spectators can learn a great deal about Pink Floyd, as the exhibition follows the chronology of the band. Starting with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the audience follows the production of vinyl records and concerts including footage from the anti-Woodstock film Live at Pompeii set in a completely empty Roman amphitheatre.
There is a huge focus on Pink Floyd’s musical genius throughout Their Mortal Remains, given this is what they have been famous for since the beginning. There is a whole section dedicated to the ‘noodling’ of every day noises, such as howling dogs and chirping birds, with music, to create the iconic sounds in their early works. In fact, the exhibition includes interactive mixing desks where fans can try their hand at the same musical experimentation that Pink Floyd did.
However, like with many Pink Floyd performances, there is much more than just the music. The exhibition, created by the Floyd’s designer Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, is more theatrical and interactive than a regular exhibition as the audience is submerged into the life of the band. The spectators are fully immersed through the use of Sennheiser 3D headsets that relay snippets of songs and uncover the inner workings Pink Floyd. There are TV interviews about the creation of Dark Side of the Moon, the tensions between the band members in the early 70s and importantly, a tribute to Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett who founded Pink Floyd but left the band in 1968. It is nearly impossible to remain detached from the exhibition as you are thrown into the gossip surrounding the rock band.
Whereas a normal exhibition can be somewhat disconnected from the surroundings, everything about Their Mortal Remains screams ‘Pink Floyd’, making it an incredibly engaging showcase. From the spinning prism from Dark Side of the Moon and miniature Battersea Power Station complete with floating pig, to Syd Barrett’s bicycle that inspired the 1967 song Bicycle, it is difficult not to feel totally involved with the band and their history. In particular, The Wall chamber features oversized white bricks and Headmaster puppet like those used during The Wall Live tour in 1980-81.
Finally and aptly, the exhibition concludes in a large room showcasing their final concert in 2005, Live 8 at Hyde Park, surrounded by footage of the song Comfortably Numb. It is a moving moment to see how fans on screen and at the exhibition respond to the finale of Pink Floyd. Even those unfamiliar with the band are captivated by the end of the journey.
In the same way that Pink Floyd stood for creating experiences for their followers during their active years, Their Mortal Remains has been entirely successful in producing a theatrical experience about the band and their music. It is more than an informative museum exhibition; it is an artistic expression of Pink Floyd through the years perfect for both life-long and the quietly curious admirers.
Their Mortal Remains continues at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until October 1st 2017. Tickets for the exhibition can be bought online here: www.ticketzone.co.uk