Created by artist Stanley Donwood and experience director Murray Bell, Panic Office is an immersive experience showcasing Stanley Donwood's significant contribution to the Radiohead brand (since 1994).
Presented by Semi-Permanent and Carriageworks, the exhibition was the first of its kind, combining the collective visual works of Donwood with a bespoke soundscape engineered by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, specifically for the exhibition.
The track was played over three stereo sets and is the longest recorded song in history, taking over three days to listen to its entirety and changing as the audience move throughout the exhibition space.
The exhibition showcased thousands of pieces of artwork from the Radiohead albums OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows and The King of Limbs, as well as Donwood’s personal art including paintings, prints and drawings, and the art for Radiohead, Thom Yorke & Atoms For Peace that cover the past 25+ years.
Murray and Semi-Permanent had the considerable task of bringing Donwood’s vision to life, a thirty-five-metre Punk Iron Age fortress or the equivalent of a derelict UK factory district built inside of Sydney’s Carriageworks. It featured over two thousand pieces of precious artwork, all carefully crating in from the UK, only for the visionary artist to (quite literally) begin tearing into his work with reckless abandon.
"The initial shock at seeing Stanley’s methods was (mostly) allayed by his assurances that he wanted The Panic Office to serve as a ‘shrine to failed art’, which he planned to pound into shape with all the care and delicacy of an Iron Age blacksmith."
– Murray Bell
The final product was nothing short of spectacular. Like Donwood and York’s previous collaborations Mithras Tauroctonos Subterranea, a labyrinth constructed in an underground train station in London, and PolyFauna, an experimental mobile app, The Panic Office is a visionary attempt to shatter the partition that separates still art and still life.
Over 18 days of Semi-Permanent and the Vivid Sydney window, the installation saw over 10,000 people attend and had a global reach of 361 million.
Creative Director: Murray Bell
Event: Semi-Permanent / Vivid Sydney
Artist: Standly Donwood
Music: Thom Yorke
Location: Carriage Works