Immersive art: How tech-powered portraits are taking over the planet? Powered by the most advanced projection, holography, AI and VR, it aims to bring some of the world’s most iconic paintings to life digitally.
It fuses art and technology to create an experience whereby art lovers can experience a merging of the physical world with digital and augmented reality. According to the HERE Institute, the immersive entertainment industry was valued at more than €58 billion at the beginning of 2020, a figure that looks set to increase considerably, given the boom in social media video creation recently.
Some of the most popular immersive art experiences worldwide include AREA15 in Las Vegas, The House of Eternal Return in Sante Fe and Atelier des Lumieres, Paris.
Despite digital paintings making impressions globally, there are examples of more traditional immersive art projects that wind all the way back to the 1960s. Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama can be credited with being among the first in the world to bring immersive art to life through her unique Infinity Mirror exhibitions. Although no projectors were in existence at the time, thousands of illuminated lights and mirrors that put the visitor at the center of her works of art proved hugely successful and helped power a taste for immersive digital experiences across the globe.
One of the latest tech-enabled art exhibitions to launch is Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience by Irish company Theatre of Light and Turkey based Nohlab, which had its world premiere in Dublin, Ireland earlier this month. Running at the RDS from May 16th to August the 1st, it brings infamous portraits such as Starry Night, Sunflowers and Self-Portrait to life, no paintbrush required. The 20,000 square foot, 360-degree multi-sensory experience places visitors in the heart of Van Gogh’s most famous works and provides 360-degree views of his art.
We spoke to Theatre of Light Co-Founder Dan Gleeson about how he helped craft an arty off the wall concept into a colourful digital delight using projectors and AI.
Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Where did the concept for Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience come from?
My brother John and I (both Co-founders of Theatre of Light) have spent the last twelve years growing a chain of retail stores, including PAIR mobile, which specializes in the sale and repair of smartphones. Prior to that, I studied Economics at University College Dublin and John qualified as a barrister. The idea for the project came about in late 2018 after visiting the Atelier des Lumières in Paris. I was amazed by this large scale immersive attraction projecting colourful works of art from Van Gough onto the walls of this old iron foundry in the heart of the French capital.
Given the changes in the retail landscape and with landlords constantly looking at ways to bring footfall back into their schemes, I immediately recognised the potential for this type of attraction in Dublin. And so began my search for a location that would be suitable. Throughout our research we have visited 10+ immersive art experiences around the world, learning more and more each time about what we wanted to do.
Van Gogh Exhibition
Can you tell me a bit about the technology used?
As well as the high-powered projectors we use, the content creators Nohlab who employ AI as part of the Van Gogh exhibition, use the entire catalog of over two thousand artworks, including paintings, drawings and letters. By categorizing and analyzing them, the algorithm learns Van Gogh’s style, his color palette and, in turn, produces new and modern interpretations of his artwork.
How many people and how many projectors were involved in bringing such works of art to life?
To sum it up, we have four 20k Panasonic projectors, 11 quad output servers, each of which runs through AvStumpfl Pixera software, 3.5k of fiber cable and over 124 million pixels on the walls and floor! Hence this is Ireland’s largest ever video projection event!
Do you plan on bringing the exhibition overseas, if so to which countries?
We’ve already had inquiries from Europe and the US about licensing the Van Gogh content that we commissioned. At the moment our focus is on delivering a world-class attraction at the RDS, in the heart of Dublin, Ireland.
Will you be looking at introducing further artists and their works in future?
Absolutely, it’s something we’re having many conversations about. Some Irish Artist’s works we’d love to explore working with include James Malton about his eighteenth-century views of Dublin works, James Mahony on his nineteenth-century Dublin and Cork art. Also, Jack B Yeats, we are looking at his various Irish scenes, Paul Henry and his West of Ireland portraits, and finally, Mainie Jellett who is a little more abstract!
For further information please visit vangoghdublin.com