Devon Turnbull’s Ojas: The Sound System Makes You Feel Like You’re Playing Illusion

Over the next decade, while focusing on streetwear, Turnbull began building his own hi-fi systems — pioneering works he called “acoustic sculptures” — and Finally, he seized the opportunity to turn the fringes into a new career. Using his old graffiti tag, Ojas, he set out to create large-scale brutalist sound systems distinguished by their natural sound quality. As Ojas grew, Turnbull felt more and more that he had to do with the devices he was building. In 2020, he hired two full-time employees and moved the business from the top floor of his Brooklyn townhouse to an industrial plant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Now, Ojas is capable of building about 15 custom speaker setups per year. It’s a growing activity but still on a relatively small scale given the growing interest in this unique form of hi-fi sound.

Last year, one of Turnbull’s friends, artist Hugh Hayden, introduced him to a well-known audiophile named Alex Logsdail, CEO of Lisson Gallery, where Hayden exhibits his work. . Logsdail invited Turnbull to place an Ojas system inside his Chelsea gallery as part of a program called “The Odds Are Good, the Goods Are Odd,” which featured works by Hayden and other artists. focus on handmade sculpture. In a 390 square foot private room located at the back of the showroom, Turnbull installed HiFi Dream listening room number 1—Not a sculpture but a complete, hand-crafted sound system. At one end of Listening room, on display throughout August, is a wall of sadist speakers. In the middle are the turntables and the amplifiers that power them. And at the other end are chairs where visitors can sit and listen. All components are hand-crafted, angular, and have a matte or slightly glossy gray color, as if carved from stone or cast in concrete. The room feels similarly heavy, thanks in part to careful spatial adjustments to maximize acoustics — this is where something important happens. “I really try to create an environment like a temple or a temple,” or some kind of wellness space, says Turnbull.

The listening room runs for about two months, is free and open to the public (like most galleries) to come and listen to the Ojas system for as long as they want. Music offerings include performances with legendary jazz signature Blue Note Records, a selection of Brian Eno’s ambient music, and live performances recorded live on tape and played back via sound system. Every day, the room is filled with a mix of hi-fi fanatics, Ojas music lovers, and gallery goers no doubt. Turnbull rolled around the room on a wheeled stool, dropped records on the Ojas turntable and simply listened as everyone did, facing the speakers.

One visitor, Chance Chamblin, a 21-year-old film student from New York, was familiar with Turnbull’s work via social media but never had the chance to experience the Ojas system until it was introduced. exhibition room. “Sereneness” is how he describes what he found in that room. “Assured.” He estimates that he spent about 30 hours listening to Turnbull’s system at the showroom. On his first day, he sat for seven hours. “I came here to surrender myself to this amazing and beautiful sound system,” he told me.

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