Van Gogh: the immersive experience, the latest blockbuster art show – where art and live entertainment experiences merge – is making waves in Texas. One of Van Gogh’s many immersive shows currently touring the world, this Exhibition Hub and Fever production uses digital projection technology to surround visitors with the immortal art of Vincent Van Gogh.
Asked to get a preview of the Houston show, I walked over to the MARQ * E entertainment center site with only a vague idea of what the experience would bring. (The Arlington site opened a few weeks before Houston.)
The exhibit does not bring visitors directly into the giant immersion room. It takes several galleries to get there and it is here that the Van Gogh: the immersive experience most closely resembles its museum roots. The introductory gallery gives us a chronology of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and puts this life in perspective, as a failed artist in his time, as a bridge of his own between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and his rise after death to become one of the most loved and esteemed artists of all time. The gallery also separates from a museum experience in its use of digital, by projecting a selection of Van Gogh paintings on two large sculptures: Van Gogh’s head and a vase.
The following gallery brings us into some large-scale dioramas of his paintings which visitors can enter. The exhibit even features glowing camera icons on the floor to mark the best spots for Instagrammable photos.
While for some, the whole exhibit may be about documenting the experience for social media (not that there is anything wrong with that), the second gallery also gives newbies to Van Gogh quality information on the process and the artist’s influences. full confession, I was the nerd taking photos of the wall text for further reading instead of lounging in the mockup of Van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, France for the perfect selfie.
Van Gogh immersed in the 21st century
Entirely steeped in art history, it was time for the headliner, the Salle Immersive.
River Oaks District
As I entered the huge rectangular space, I immediately felt swept away into the landscape, a sort of strange new world that merged Van Gogh’s art and cutting-edge animation. I scanned the carpet and pillow littered floor a bit before finding a seat on one of the many canvas lounge chairs.
As I settle in, I let the images and the music overwhelm me. The immersive room has some familiar qualities: watching art in a museum, walking through nature, and watching a movie in the cinema, all without ever feeling exactly like one of those experiences.
Just as Van Gogh filtered sunflowers, meadows and night landscapes through his own vision and onto canvases, the show’s creators and animators are expanding and transforming Van Gogh’s visions through the animation and projection technology of the 21st century. Here we see Van Gogh’s paintings grow gigantic through the walls as they move and dissolve into each other.
Those who love their Van Gogh in actual painting, to scale and bound by museum frames might object to watching his crabs ply the room or his flying raven gestures suddenly multiply and swarm in his landscapes as directed by Hitchcock. But for those who have always wanted to dive into its Starry Night cosmos, this is probably the closest you will get outside of the vastness of the imagination.
The immersive room feels like a movie in that the images, narrator, and music offer a loose 35-minute story of Van Gogh’s life and art, but without a classic beginning, middle, and ending.
Then when I spoke with Mario Lacampo, CEO of Exhibition Hub, who was in Houston for the opening of the exhibition, he explained to me that they intentionally wanted visitors to be able to enter at any time. Of the history.
“We wanted to tell the story of his life without it sounding chronological. We therefore chose moments, ”explains Lacampo. “I didn’t want a real start and a real end. I wanted this feeling of zen. The music is very Zen. You can sit on a lawn chair or on the floor and watch it once, watch it three times.
“I didn’t want a documentary. It is not what it is.
The immersive room is hardly a room of silence, as a narrator recounts passages from Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo, one of the few people who believed in his art throughout his life and until the dead.
“This was the most difficult part of the search as there are over 700 letters,” says Lacampo. “But letters are very useful when you have this kind of experiment because he tells you what he is thinking.”
Most of the selections chosen give us a glimpse of how Van Gogh viewed the world and art. The images and the narrator are also accompanied by an original score that looks both modern classic, cinematic and reflecting the work of art.
Beyond Van Gogh
The exhibition does not stop at the immersive room. Children will enjoy their own creative space for artistic creation. Adults might find a childish wonder in the final section of the exhibit, a virtual reality trip to Arles to explore the fields and streets that inspired Van Gogh. The VR experience requires a separate ticket, although it is included in the VIP pass.
To note: These tickets don’t come cheap, ranging from $ 34.90 for basic timed entry to $ 64.90 for adult VIPs (plus fees). Children ages 4 to 12 can enter for around $ 20. Peak periods can be more expensive.
Once I put on the VR headset, I found myself in Van Gogh’s little painted room in Arles, then left, floating downstairs in the beautiful day to roam the countryside, then into town at dusk. of the night. Along the way, arrows point to reveal Van Gogh’s paintings inspired by the landscape.
“You can see some of the paintings that were inspired, but you live in this 3D realm that is Arles,” Lacampo later told me. Describing the VR creation process, he adds: “We went to Arles and filmed the streets and fields to get a feel, then we converted these digital images and retouched all of them to look like his paintings. It’s a world.
While the virtual reality program didn’t allow me to stop for very long, I could look behind, up and down to find a complete virtual world with fun little touches like a cow or chicken passing through the fields. and a drunken reveler taking a nap in an alleyway.
I found the VR to be the most unique presentation and the highlight of the whole show, perhaps because it goes so far beyond recreating and projecting Van Gogh’s work. In this virtual reality experience, Van Gogh: the immersive experience goes beyond projection into another kind of technological art form.
While VR travel is certainly inspired by the works of Van Gogh, it becomes a creative achievement in its own right.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is on view at Choctaw Stadium in North Texas and MARQ * E Entertainment Center in Houston through the fall.