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Pink Floyd: Displaying Their Mortal Remains

Marking 50 years since the release of their debut single Arnold Layne and to celebrate Pink Floyd’s unique place in the musical and cultural landscape since, London’s Victoria and Albert museum will very soon open its doors to the much anticipated The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains.

Simply put Pink Floyd have been one of the most influential and successful music bands ever to emerge from the underground London psychedelic scene of the 1960’s. Daring and creative, both musically and visually, they also achieved massive commercial success globally with a substantial recorded output since that includes, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, Animals,  and The Division Bell. This first major retrospective of this iconic band is sure to be “an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey though Pink Floyd’s extraordinary world”.

And the V&A with its passionate and long association with contemporary culture and design is the obvious choice of venue that will no doubt be hoping to achieve a success similar to its David Bowie retrospective, until now the most visited show in the museum’s history. Co-curated by Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell the exhibition will bring together under one roof much of the group’s iconic imagery both previously seen and unseen, including artefacts and staging from the bands long career, accompanied and enhanced all the way with a brand new immersive remix of a live version of a “Comfortably Numb" 3D soundtrack experience, which was recorded at the Live 8 concert in 2005, the last time David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright played onstage with former member Roger Waters.

"The “Comfortably Numb” mix will use AMBEO 3D Audio Technology used in the Abbey Road Studio Two and will allow the audience to “walk around inside the music of Pink Floyd” while at the Victoria & Albert exhibition" website Smash.com reports, "This will be made possible by surrounding the audience with Sennheiser loudspeakers to create full immersion. This 25 speaker setup will include eight subwoofers, 16 of their KH420 monitors, plus a ground floor of subs, a ring of subs about five meters high, and then overhead more subwoofers which Franglen refers to as 'the voice of God.'"

Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill, London, 1967 © Colin Prime

Co-curator Aubrey was an original founder of the English art and design agency Hipgnosis, famous not only for being long term Pink Floyd collaborators and creators of instantly distinctive and recognisable record covers for a veritable who’s who of 1970’s and early 1980’s rock aristocracy (Led Zeppelin, Genesis , T-Rex, ELO……), but also for their unique and innovative photography based techniques which have been likened to an early analogue version of photoshop!

For this show he has been fortunate enough to work closely with remaining Pink Floyd members David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Nick Mason, (original members Syd Barrett and Richard Wright are sadly no longer with us) so one can expect plenty of fascinating facts, personal touches and insider knowledge from the early days at EMI through difficulties with pigs at Battersea Power Station and continuing to the present.

This image of the band was taken at their first photo shoot by Colin Prime in Ruskin Park, London. Colin experimented and came up with this shot, a version of which was later used on the back cover of the band’s debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (named after the title of chapter seven of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows)

This iconic photo is available to buy here.

The Cow © Storm Thorgerson

Storm Thorgerson was Po’s partner at Hipgnosis and armed with a medium format Hasselblad he can be held responsible for a great deal of Rock and Roll’s Surrealism. Some have labelled him the 6th member of Pink Floyd and his work will be very much in evidence including the Rockarchive exclusive image “Wire Cow”.

Shot as an alternative cover version for the Floyd's fifth studio album Atom Heart Mother (it was the band's first album to reach number 1 in the UK).

As Storm recalls, “The cow was your regular cow, your standard cow, what every cow should look like. To Pink Floyd the cow seemed suitably resonant, but unrelated and certainly open to different interpretations.”

This exclusive limited edition print, signed by Storm, available to buy here.

Nassau Stadium, New York, USA © Jill Furmanovsky

As well as recording ground breaking albums Pink Floyd are pioneers in the world of live performance combining simultaneously the experimental and the spectacular. Rockarchive founder Jill Furmanovsky has been fortunate to be present at both intimate recording sessions and to accompany the band on tour .

In this image she captures the grandeur and majesty of David Gilmour performing the solo for Comfortably Numb at Nassau Stadium, New York.

Hello? Hello? Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?
Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

This is a photograph favoured by David Gilmour "I like live shots. They are the most effective shots because they’re the only ones that show you doing what you do rather than posing for a camera." (extract from 'The Moment’).

This limited edition print is available to buy here.

Pink Floyd - Abbey Road Studios © Jill Furmanovsky

Away from the stage and by contrast this is a more relaxed image of the band at Abbey Rd while recording what was to become the album 'Wish You Were Here' with Roy Harper in attendance also.

Photographer Jill Furmanovsky recalls "I went on the road with Pink Floyd to shoot stills on the Dark Side of the Moon tour in 1974. After the tour the band went into Abbey Road to make a new album that became 'Wish You Were Here'. I was asked by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, the brilliant designers of their record sleeves, to drop in discreetly and shoot some stills. They must have been recording 'Welcome to the Machine' because Roy Harper is in some of the pictures."

This iconic photo is available to buy here.

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason with the EMI recording console.

Dark Side of the Moon was an album Floyd drummer Nick Mason said in his book, Inside Out, A Personal History of Pink Floyd, encompasses “Deadlines, travel, the stress of flying, the lure of money, a fear of dying, and the problems of mental instability spilling over into madness.”

Smash.com reports "The console originally comes from the legendary Abbey Road recording studios, where the album was made, and is listed on the website of auction house Bonhams as console EMI TG12345 MK IV. The site lists it as Lot 35 and notes that it was used between 1971 and 1983 in Studio 2.

It was one of only two consoles that were custom made by engineers at EMI for Abbey Road, and has been referred to as “the greatest console ever constructed”—mainly because of this collaboration and because of its expert craftsmanship where each part was built with military precision.”

The recording console is scheduled to be auctioned at the TCM Presents…Rock and Roll Through the Lens sale in New York on March 27 and is estimated to reach a price in the six figure range.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains runs from 13 May – 1 October 2017 at the V&A .

Visit their website for more information and exciting news updates about this exhibition - www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/pink-floyd

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