Immerse into the art; feel a painting come alive

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Technology, and particularly technology within the realm of art, continually exceeds my expectations. From AI that creates psychedelic images based on your suggestions, to huge interactive VR performances where the audience at home can control the movements of a character or the eventual meaning of the piece. We are witnessing a renaissance of more accessible and, dare I say, more creative art. The trendiest and most well-known collaboration between art and technology is the recent rise of immersive art exhibitions.

Immersive art exhibitions are an admittedly confusing concept. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit one of these exhibits, imagine a large, dimly lit room filled with people. On the walls, ceilings, floor and anything else that can feasibly be projected onto, projections cover the surfaces in moving images of paintings, mesmerising patterns and light. Often the exhibits are equipped with abstractly shaped benches so you can fully soak in the atmosphere while cuddling up with your significant other in the dark. Also placed around the room are smaller areas with mirrors, corresponding props and all the required pieces to make your photos Insta-worthy.

Technological advances ensure that art can be redefined and developed to interest a new era of consumers

These types of aesthetic, attention-seeking art exhibitions are the direct consequence of our current social media crazed society. They feed and fester off the requirement to document every experience you have in real life and ensure that your followers are seeing the best version of you. It is no longer considered ‘interesting’ to visit a traditional art gallery. Instead, art is to be manipulated into a transformative experience that entices a new generation brought up on too much TV time and endless connectivity with media. There is absolutely no getting around the issue that many visitors to these exhibits — which are essentially just strange blacked-out buildings with extremely high-tech projections — will attend simply for the aesthetic and for an opportunity to take some exciting photos for their socials. But is this really an issue?

Art has always established a standard of elitism and higher art is considered to be the best form of art. Technological advances ensure that art can be redefined and developed to interest a new era of consumers, as well as attract audiences that would not have been as engaged with traditional art forms. I, too, accept feeling allured by the dazzling lights and stunning visuals of immersive art exhibitions – due to how difficult it is to get tickets, Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’ at the Tate Modern has a solid place on my bucket list and I will not pretend that I didn’t first see it featured years ago on a friend’s Instagram post.

The images dance across the screen and swirl together before your eyes

There is certainly a difference between art exhibitions that are themselves the art, such as Kusama’s exhibit, and then immersive art that redefines existing works: for example, the many pop-up exhibitions of Van Gogh’s work that currently exist in London, Edinburgh, York and everywhere else. The Atelier des Lumières Gallery in Paris is a custom-created art venue that specialises in showcasing artists’ reinventions of canonical art.

I visited on an Art trip to Paris in 2019 to see their Van Gogh exhibition — the exhibition presents a chronological view of his work beginning with his pastoral scenes before merging into well-known pieces of his later career such as his sunflowers and ‘The Starry Night’. The artwork has been animated in a way that the images dance across the screen and swirl together before your eyes. A musical accompaniment matches the energy of the paintings and you are taken through a journey through calm beginnings into vibrant turbulence and saddening endings. It truly is an experience, similar to watching a film in the cinema, you feel like a participant in the drama rather than simply a viewer.

Choosing the immersive art exhibit reflects a newfound autonomy to choose the type of art that suits an individual

I think there is a new recognition of providing choice and accessing parts of society that deserve to be engaged in a method that suits them. If you’re in Paris, London or any other cultural capital of the world, you have huge amounts of choice to see culture in a format that suits you. Choosing the immersive art exhibit reflects a newfound autonomy to choose the type of art that suits an individual. It may be more abstract and flamboyant, yet it is available and like all art, it creates enjoyment and a sense of wonder and interest in the world around us.

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