Roger Hiorns’ Muse Music

The obscurist artist on the music that gets him in a creative mood
Artist Roger Hiorns (top right), his 2008 sculpture 'Seizure' and Ian Curtis of Joy Division (left), one of the artists who have inspired him
Artist Roger Hiorns (top right), his 2008 sculpture 'Seizure' and Ian Curtis of Joy Division (left), one of the artists who have inspired him


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We suspected a Phaidon playlist of the music that inspires Roger Hiorns’ art would be somewhat esoteric and the 2009 Turner Prize nominee didn’t let us down. Hiorns is perhaps best known for his 2008 piece Seizure in which he poured 80,000 litres of copper sulphate solution through a hole in the ceiling of an abandoned public housing apartment. After a few weeks every surface of the apartment was covered in blue crystals, creating an other-worldly, mineralised, glinting mirror of an everyday flat with jewels literally growing from the walls, floors, ceilings and pipes. Perhaps not surprisingly, the piece has inspired songs by Bjork (Crystaline) The XX (Crystallised) and the title of Tom Vek's new album, Leisure Seizure.

His current work is no less audacious. Untitled 2009, comprising the dust left by an atomized passenger jet engine, is on show at New York’s MOMA PS1 and he tells Phaidon he’s currently working on burying a 747 passenger plane under the surface of the UK. He's played music while working in his studio since his first big show in 2001. 

If you have a Spotify account you can listen to Roger's choices here. But before you do that have a quick read of what he says about them. 

"My studio is mostly my car, on the way to the studio. I do more thinking than action, so it’s the perfect place to listen to music. John Cale and Terry Riley’s Church Of Anthrax, Pan Sonic, Atari Teenage Riot - all are perfect for the journey to the darkest part of (South London suburb) Deptford. I did a lot of rail travel over the summer, and seemed to listen mostly to Boards Of Canada, it seemed perfect going through Belgium. They seem to capture memory very well in their work - great in the suburbs of Hasselt!"

Joy Division - These Days Not on the pair of solemn albums (Unknown Pleasures and Closer), and less tied up teen gothic pessimism, but it's still very easy to get lost in the loop of the song's concluding seconds.

Hubert Dreyfus - Lectures from iTunes U (only available on iTunes) Hear his work on Heidegger - complex definitions of being and Dasein will lead us to a deeper, more harmonic co-existence with technology. Quite a way to go.

Iggy Pop - Mass Production It’s the last song on the Idiot album, haunts as much as the growing cavities of Detroit. Reflections of another post-production town, Birmingham from the car window.

Pan Sonic - Aines from Kulma. It's spare, rhythmic and arrhythmic fragility was always present in the studio during the early crystal works.

This Heat - 24 Track Loop Hugely complicated, ahead of its time etc. They shunned the easy path, I’m sure it was never even offered. John Latham (British conceptual artist) lived close to them, I often wonder if they ever met.

La Dusseldorf - Cha Cha 2000 A very optimistic song, with little baggage.

Vladimir Ashkenazy - Mozart Piano Sonatas, 1967 Seems more complicated on every hearing, plasticity I suppose, residing deeper it becomes more and less familiar.

Miles Davis - In a Silent Way was introduced to me early on in life, it's always been around, back there in the grey matter It's been very useful.

Slint - Washer Another distilled intensity.

Melvins - Night Goat Speaks for itself.

Boards of Canada - Roygbiv from Music Has The Right To Children. It reminds me of putting together my first solo show in August and September 2001, spare and bleak, has been since, to some.

Bowie - Station to Station Driving round Birmingham city centre, mostly, the ring-roads around the station. A great big ticket office.

Roger Hiorns, <em>Seizure</em> (2008)Roger Hiorns, Seizure (2008)

Listen to Roger Hiorns' Phaidon playlist on Spotify

You can also listen to these creatives' Phaidon playlists:

John Pawson
United Visual
Simon Fujiwara
Samuel Wilkinson
Alex Hartley
Brian Griffiths
Michele Howarth Rashman
George Condo
Martin Boyce
George Shaw
Karla Black
Piers Secunda
Mark Titchner
Chris Johanson
Edmund de Waal
Haroon Mirza
Elizabeth Peyton
Wilhelm Sasnal
Nathaniel Mellors
Richard Harrison
Antony Micallef

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