A friend and I attended the opening "private viewing" for Emmanuelle Moureaux's 'Slices of Time' expecting a exclusive event with free drinks and fancy nibbles, and so were slightly disappointed when half of London was queuing outside when we arrived! But once inside we were not disappointed. The sheer scale of Emmanuelle's paper sculptures hits you first, it took up the whole space and is custom built for which ever gallery is lucky enough to be hosting her beautiful work. But once you get closer you start to appreciate the craftsmanship and time that must have been spent tirelessly arranging and hanging a work of this intricacy. Your eyes struggle to take it all in, everything so vibrant and bold, not sure where to focus amongst the seemingly infinite layers. The evening was capped off perfectly when wondering what the numbers actually represented, we noticed we we stood next the
I dragged a few friends a long to this exhibition at the Southbank Centre one December Sunday morning and was a little embarrassed to find we were the only adults without children in the whole space! But once we overcame that awkwardness, we discovered a wonderfully playful and creative experience comprised of motion tracked sandpits, that respond to your movement with strange sounds and colourful visuals. The depth sensors of the tracking cameras work wonderfully with the sand, so as you dig down to deeper layers of sand, the projected graphics reveal ever more colourful subterranean patterns. The audio element was slightly lost due to the number of people 're-mixing' in each pit, but when you got a bit of time to yourself, you really did feel like you were stirring up a strange new masterpiece, giving the surprising sensation that you were physically touching the sounds.
I managed to catch this exhibition on the last day that it was showing at the 180 Strand space, and I was really glad I did. United Visual Artists are a collective I have admired for a while and their work is always as mesmerizing as it is thought provoking.The show comprised of three immersive a/v experiences, each quite different to the next, but with a connecting thread of light and dark and sound that completely enveloped you. The first exhibit, Our Time, felt eerily like a favourite game of mine, Inside by the studio Playdead, I would love to find out if they were inspired by it. Details from the Vinyl Factory website: Our TimeFeaturing newly composed music by Mira Calix, Our Time is a site-specific evolution of the UVA’s 2013 commission for the Barbican called Momentum. The installation features kinetic structures swinging in and out of phase, while light
Last October I had a great afternoon exploring the mind of Antony Gormley, in this brilliantly curated collection at the Royal Academy of Art. His pieces filled the rooms in such a way that you were forced to climb over them, blindly bumble through them, or worry that they were going to come crashing down on top of you. It's why sculpture like this is so exciting to me, it interrupts our experience of the world in a way 2D art never has for me. I was fully immersed and totally in awe of the scale, complexity and craftmanship in everything on display. It was a dream to capture photographically as well, they way he plays with perspective, shapes and light, there was lots of get your lens stuck into.
On a recent weekend in Amsterdam, I was tipped off to the presence of a modern art gallery hidden away in the leafy suburbs of Den Haag, that happens to specialise in immersive / spacial installations. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful gallery spaces I've ever visited, surrounded by lakes and gardens, and even an English style country house. The building itself was full of light and big open spaces, giant floor to ceiling windows framing the lush greenery outside as if it was another exhibit to be admired. The art itself was a wonderful combination of different styles and ideas, all surprising and unexpected, rewarding you for your curiosity the more you investigate. Like with Olafur at the Tate the week before, I had actually referenced a few of the exhibits in moodboards without knowing they lived together in this one glorious space. The swimming pool
Like seemingly everyone else in London, I recently went to see Olafur Eliasson's glorious show at the Tate. What a treat. Each exhibit exploring different ideas and varying mediums, the only thread connecting them together being a sense of fun and the art of the unexpected. The way he curates these experiences for his audience, making them wonder and laugh in equal measure, is a talent we can all aspire to. Unknowingly, I had been referencing Eliasson's work in moodboards for the last few years, not realising the same creative mind was behind so many of my influences.
With my background in AR, I am always curious to see how the public engage with AR when it pokes it's head into mainstream culture. This virtual art tour felt like that kind of situation, and a bit of an education piece for the consumer after Apple's not insignificant investment in the space in the last few years. The exhibits were from a wide range of international artists, and varied a lot in terms of style, interaction and effectiveness. The tech worked well enough and was managed pretty seamlessly by two Apple staff, who were working in the less than ideal conditions of extreme heat and iPhone blinding glare. Overall we enjoyed the experience, exploring the various surprises and getting a glimpse into what the future might hold for mainstream AR adoption.
For the second time in a year, the Saatchi Gallery has hosted an event that I was really excited about, and both times it really delivered. This atmospheric, subtle and eerie creation from James Lavelle of UNKLE fame, and the oh so clever brains behind immersive theatre's godfathers Punchdrunk, creates a mood unlike any art exhbition I've seen in a long while. Featuring a really wide range of technologies but in a way that never felt obtrusive, the experience makes use of lighting, projections, holograms, robotics, movies, props, neon, beds, wax and even a church to create something truly special. And we have been humming the Micheal Kiwanuka song featured in the 'Roma' clip ever since. (all photos nicked from Google due to being discouraged from taking photos in the experience)
My long suffering partner in crime was dragged to another immersive experience at the weekend, but this time it was more of a branded activation than pure art, as we attended the 'Sonos Brilliant Sound Experience' in the basement of Phonica records in Soho, which was also in partnership with Google Home. With a healthy dose of corporate scepticism pre-loaded I was actually pretty impressed with the two installations they had running, and it all seemed a logical and clever demonstration of their speaker technology. The first room allowed us to 'step inside a song', with the various instruments and vocals being played from different speakers spread around a room, housed in giant 3D shapes that glowed in time with the sound. This created a fun interaction that allowed you to effectively remix the tracks by where you physically placed yourself in the room. Google got their product slightly shoe horned in as the
My ever patient girlfriend foolishly agreed to come along to Dot Dot Dot's brand new immersive experience, the day after a night of heavy drinking. Despite the slight nausea, we were really impressed by how far they had pushed the production values and overall scale of the experience since last year's Somnai. Making that many different technologies and elements work cohesively, with even a loose storyline to hold it together was a feat to be applauded. The consideration they have given to every detail is great, from the set design to the acting talent, the sounds, smells and lights, to the haptic feedback and even flames! The VR elements are still a little scratchy, but that seems nitpicking for an overall experience that really excited us and seems to be proving that audiences really do have an appetite for this kind of immersive entertainment, even when hungover! (all photos nicked from Google images
Pretty easily the most mind blowing visual experience I have been lucky enough to witness at a concert. This show made use of lasers, projection mapping, massively complex lighting rigs on moveable hanging platforms, but the star of the show was the stunning use of Holo-Gauze and transparent LED panels to create massive holographic imagery that appears to float above the audience. Having seen Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers push the limits of live show AV in the past, this felt like the next evolution of what is possible, and I absolutely loved it.
A gentle, modest, peaceful virtual reality experience graces the basement of the Saatchi Gallery that everyone needs to experience. With almost no instructions, you are left to discover the delights of this strange world all on your own, so much so that if you haven't been already, then read no further for spoilers be coming. There are clever sensors built into the HTC Vive headsets, that track your breath as it comes out of your mouth, and sends beautiful particles flowing into the scene. If this wasn't clever enough, your heartbeat is tracked by a sensor that you wear and elements in the experience pulse and react accordingly. You move around the space surrounded by other shuffling punters, but no one bumps into each other due to the delicate avatars that trace around your body, creating a ghostly sensation of seeing someone who isn't quite there. The best VR experience we have tried since The Void.
The high bar unto which all immersive VR experiences must now aim their blasters at. We didn't stop laughing the whole time, so so much fun. Dear The Void, please make more of these and I will keep giving you my money. Thank you.