'World Unseen' Exhibition at Somerset House

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'World Unseen' Exhibition at Somerset House

The Photography Exhibition you don’t need to see...

Words by Nick Chambers, Sunday 17 Mar 2024


We were extremely honoured to be asked to collaborate with leading creative agencies VML & Prism Sport + Entertainment for an immersive and unique photography exhibition taking place at Somerset House, London in partnerhsip with Canon and the RNIB.  

This first-of-its-kind exhibition is changing the way blind and partially sighted people experience photography, and challenges the way sighted people understand the world of sight loss. 

The exhibition features 15 incredible images from world-renowned photographers and Canon ambassadors, including multi-award-winning South African photojournalist Brent Stirton and renowned Brazilian Photojournalist, Sebastião Salgado.

The stunning imagery depicts thought-provoking moments in time - this includes the ethereal, space-like environment of the womb, the emotional plight of the last male northern White Rhino on earth, through to the exhilarating championship final of Paralympic swimmer Darko Duric expertly captured from beneath the water by award-winning photogratpher Sam Vidic.

An exhibition for those with sight impairments places a huge responsibility on delivering their stories through the use of nuanced and engaging sound as the primary mechanism. It was a privilege to be given that responsibility - to craft immersive sound worlds and stories through the sound design we delivered across the entire show

We were asked to create an immersive audio soundscape for each image to interpret not only the global landscape and environment where each photo was taken but the story that each tells, exemplifying the crucial role that audio plays to convey emotion and to connect people & places.  

Mixed in quadraphonic sound and employing the use of Halosonic speakers, we harnessed new technologies ot bring each soundscape truly to life. Each image is also enhanced with Canon’s elevated printing technology to create tactile relief prints embossed in braille and audio descriptions from the photographers themselves to create a multi-sensory experience for guests.

Telling each story through sound

As with all our sound design projects, we began by building our own sounds, tailored to each image.

For one photograph by Bill Smith, we needed to immerse the listener in the sound of the womb as if they were a foetus floating in amniotic fluid. Paul close mic'd a water bell jar and performed a series of manipulations rolling and moving the jar to create water moves and splashes. Some heavy pitch-shifting, creative filtering, reverb and pitched delays created a deep and very fluid-like ambience that was both wonderfully realistic yet otherworldly at the same time.

For a photo taken by Brent Stirton about the plight of white rhinos, we needed to get altogether more into character...

Pretending to be a one ton white rhino roaming the Savannah is not most people's average way to spend a morning, yet for Paul this is all very much in a day's work. He had some field recordings he had taken at Whipsnade Zoo a few years back which whilst were useful, needed some additional vocalisations and moves to bring the giant animal to life.

Using some a combination of sandpaper, vinyl gardening gloves and shredded packaging paper, Paul was able to channel his inner rhino and bring the animal relaistically to life as it moved across the plains. Likewise, using some real-time processing allowed Paul to perform the rhino grunts himself.


World Unseen will be held at Somerset House, London between 5-7 April, in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Tickets available here: https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/canon-world-unseen


Posted by

Nick Chambers

Director of Partnerships

Sunday 17 Mar 2024