A Digital Diving Into Immersive Art

Our society is getting more and more “phygital” as physical and digital experiences merge to give people the best user experience while buying a product or a service. Immersive art is trying to apply this marketing concept to the world of art with, in some cases, truly unbelievable results. 

In order to talk about immersive art we need to define it first. Immersive art is made by artists who use different new media processes (such as video projections, sound technologies, VR headsets and light shows) to create an enveloping environment for viewers, making them feel part of the artwork itself.

Currently we can distinguish two tendencies in immersive art. The first one consists in building a narrative path, through images and sounds, of some of the most known artists in history. The most popular example of this kind is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, that focuses on the life and journey of Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Some variations on the theme (that you can see in the pictures here below) are the Immersive Klimt and the Immersive Frida Kahlo

The second type of immersive art consists in creating digital environments (such as digital forests or digital playgrounds) by using coding, computer graphic and sound design. For this reason, these projects require the collaboration of various professionals, like programmers, mathematicians, CG animators and, of course, artists. 

There’s often a collective of people behind a project like this and most of the time we don’t even know the names. 

Two of the most famous immersive art collectives are the Americans Meow Wolf and the Japanese teamLab

Meow Wolf is a Santa Fe-based collective that currently counts three permanent exhibitions: The House of Eternal Return in their hometown, the stunning Omega Mart, a surreal journey into a flagship store in Las Vegas and their biggest project (at least at the moment) called Convergence Station, set in Denver, Colorado.

teamLab is for certain reason the quintessence of immersive art. If we think of immersive art like an all-encompassing experience that involves our senses and makes us feel different emotions during the journey, we’re probably thinking in one of teamLab’s Borderless experiences. Currently there are two permanent Borderless exhibitions: the first one is in the teamLab Museum in Shanghai, while the second and most known one is in the Mori Digital Art Museum in Tokyo. teamLab is now working on the opening of two other Borderless spaces respectively in Jeddah and in Hamburg. 

Most of the permanent immersive experiences are currently set in the US (to those mentioned above we can add the Artechouse in Miami and the Wisdome LA in Los Angeles) and Asia. In Europe, waiting for the teamLab space opening in Germany, the only relevant place of this kind seems to be the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, opened in 2018 by French foundation Culturespaces. This testify the expansion potential of immersive art and the fact that there are still many uncharted territories to explore. 

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