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Audio Spotlight Technology Helps Christie’s Sell a $52 Million Ruscha Painting

At Christie’s Auction House in New York City, visitors were absorbed in an acoustic and visual experience of pop art and music as they viewed a painting by American artist Edward Ruscha that was later sold at auction for more than $52 million. At the exhibit, touchless Audio Spotlight technology helped make this record-breaking sale by beaming music downward from six ceiling-mounted Holosonics AS-24i speakers directly above two benches where patrons viewed Ruscha’s Hurting the Word Radio #2 “text painting” on a nearby wall. The $52.4 million sale was the highest amount ever paid for a Ruscha painting.

Christie’s patrons at the Ruscha exhibit listen to rock and pop music from ceiling-mounted AS-24i speakers.

For its use in museums and auction houses like Christie’s and other similar settings and applications, the flexible and self-powered Audio Spotlight directional sound speaker is a powerful tool, ensuring that any exhibit has its own isolated audio, captivating visitors with an immersive, personal experience, while keeping the surrounding area quiet.

Curators at the famed auction house worked with Christie’s internal technology group to design the exhibit and integrate Audio Spotlight as part of the promotion leading up to the auction of the Ruscha painting. By using Holosonics’ revolutionary touchless audio technology, the Christie’s team incorporated a playlist of rock and pop music into the exhibit to add the dimension of sound to the environment for visitors. The music, which could only be heard by seated patrons while keeping the surrounding area quiet just a step or two away, included a diverse playlist of bands including The Mamas & The Papas, The Eagles, and Led Zeppelin.

Audio Spotlight technology provided a perfect fit for the Christie’s exhibit, a high-ceilinged rectangular room with Ruscha’s painting on the far wall, where visitors sat under three AS-24i speakers that were mounted directly above each bench and spaced evenly apart. According to an article on Christie’s website that describes Hurting the Word Radio #2, which was painted in California in 1964: “With his choice of the word ‘RADIO’, we can imagine the artist driving past a large billboard on a Los Angeles freeway, music blaring from his car.” To recapture that essence as well as the artist’s mindset, exhibit visitors were enveloped in songs beamed by the AS-24i speakers that included “California Dreamin’”, “Hotel California”, and “Going to California”.

In the two week time frame leading up to the auction of the Ruscha painting, the Christie’s team reported that approximately 15,000 people experienced the exhibit’s directional sound experience firsthand. The creation and build-out of the exhibit took three days, including the installation of the six Audio Spotlight speakers.

Contact us to learn more about how our Audio Spotlight directional sound technology can benefit your projects in the same way it has enhanced the experience for visitors at Christie’s Auction House as well as a wide variety of other settings that include retail stores, libraries, hospitals, airports, and many other locations throughout the world.

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