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Icelandic musician Jónsi opens immersive exhibit at Nordic Museum

Dive deep into the waters of the “FLÓÐ"


Nope, not a still from a sci-fi movie — just the brains of Icelandic musician Jónsi.

Photo by Rafael Soldi

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You might recognize Icelandic musician Jónsi as the lead singer for Sigur Rós or from his work on the soundtrack for “How to Train Your Dragon,” but he’s also the mind behind the National Nordic Museum’s latest exhibit: FLÓÐ.

Named after the Icelandic word for “flood,” the exhibit uses three main features — sight, sound, and scent — to transport the viewer right into the middle of a big wave; and the beauty, power, and destruction that can come with it.

Forty surround sound speakers line the room and play a mixture of Jónsi’s musical compositions and field recordings of waves across the world — giving the impression water is flowing right past the viewer. The room also uses fog and a perfume tincture made with seaweed from both the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans to really round out that full, immersive feel.

Before the exhibit launched, we got a chance to sit down and ask Jonsi a few questions about FLÓÐ.

Where did the inspiration for this piece come from?

“Leslie [the museum’s curator] asked me to do the show here and that’s when I found out Reykjavík and Seattle are sister cities. So, I was thinking about what they have in common and we both live by the sea, right? So, this is about the sea and the way it’s going to come and kill us all.”

Where did the recordings of the ocean come from?

“At first I was thinking that they had to be from the Icelandic ocean, but then I realized it doesn’t really matter. They’re all connected, all the same. So the field recordings come from different oceans and so have different sounds.”

What do you want people to take away from this exhibit?

“I want to move people to be hopeful in some ways. I wanted to trigger more senses than if you just played something on YouTube and painted.”

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