Immersive art experiences have been one of the biggest trends of recent years. We’ve seen groups such as Culturespaces and Meow Wolf making waves in the attractions industry. Now, the trend for digital art exhibits continues to grow across the globe, from Tokyo to Paris to Las Vegas.
These experiences fuse art and technology, including digital projectors, holography and VR, to bring to life famous works of art, as well as new pieces. We take a look at the very best experiences, including AREA15, teamLab, and two immersive Van Gogh offerings.
1 AREA15, Las Vegas
AREA15 is an experiential art and entertainment complex in Las Vegas, home to immersive activations, art installations, state-of-the-art technology, retail and F&B. Art experiences include a permanent gallery called Art Island that showcases artwork inspired by festivals and an ever-changing Japanese maple tree and canopy with more than 5,000 LED lights.
“It’s a cool space; it’s entertainment, it’s amusement,” said AREA15 CEO Winston Fisher. “We are a storytelling company. It’s a word that you hear a lot, though only a few people actually do it with authenticity.”
“With AREA15, at the end of the day, we’re building an imagination box,” added Fisher. “It’s a place of wonder, a place of excitement, where creativity is not scared to flourish. We don’t go for perfection, but for creativity of expression.”
Gallerie 360 Inside The Portal is an immersive audio and visual experience within AREA15’s 360-degree projection mapped room, while Shogyo Mujo by Bart Kresa Studio and Joshua Harker is an interactive giant skull covered in 3D projection mapping. The Spine is a dynamic corridor featuring art installations and F&B.
Wink World: Portals to the Infinite comes from Chris Wink, co-founder of Blue Man Group. The art and entertainment project boasts six infinity mirror rooms, each featuring a production number with black light and dynamic stage effects, as well as the Aliume 3D Psychedelic Art Gallery.
“We set out to design something that has never been built before: a vast bunker to house the burgeoning experience economy,” said Michael Beneville, chief creative officer at AREA15. “By creating and curating best-in-class experiences and partnering with immersive artists and makers at the vanguard of this movement, we have witnessed our vision come to life.”
2 House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe
Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is an innovative and imaginative ‘fun-house’ based in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. The unique art experience covers 20,000 square feet and was designed by the Meow Wolf collective. It is home to more than 70 rooms of immersive art, as well as secret passages and interactive light and musical objects that guests can play with. The storyline focuses on the Selig family, who disappeared after a forbidden experiment at their Victorian mansion.
Meow Wolf Denver, the third permanent exhibit from Meow Wolf is opening in fall 2021. It will be home to art, portals and wormholes across various worlds, with anchor spaces, interactive exhibits, retail and F&B. In 2019, an artist-driven dark ride called Kaleidoscape opened at Denver’s Elitch Gardens.
“Our most ambitious project to date, the Denver exhibition is bound to bend minds, inspire creativity, and touch hearts when we open our doors this fall,” said Todd Richins, executive creative producer at Meow Wolf.
“From our partnership with artists and collaborators on the venue, to the retail and food spaces within our walls, Meow Wolf Denver is a one-stop immersive and imaginative art experience for the ages.”
As well as a permanent installation in Washington, D.C., plans have been announced for Meow Wolf Phoenix, a hotel, immersive art exhibition and music venue in the Roosevelt Row Arts District. There will be 400 rooms designed by local artists and themed to overnight experiences, as well as 75,000 square feet of exhibition space and 10,000 square feet of performance space.
“Guests are always asking about staying overnight inside of our House of Eternal Return project in Santa Fe, so doing an intertwined exhibition and hotel just made sense to us,” said Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek.
3 Omega Mart, Las Vegas
Meow Wolf’s second permanent installation Omega Mart opened as the anchor space of AREA15 in February. “From humble beginnings as an art collective in Santa Fe, Meow Wolf is proud to open our second permanent installation at AREA15 in Las Vegas,” said Jim Ward, co-CEO of Meow Wolf.
“The concept for Omega Mart has been a part of Meow Wolf since the very beginning, and we can’t wait to bring this expansive experience to Las Vegas,” said Emily Montoya, co-founder of Meow Wolf. “Whether guests are operating machines in the Factory or transported to the Projected Desert via a trippy portal, Omega Mart is a truly interactive narrative experience.”
Omega Mart is billed as ‘America’s Most Exceptional Grocery’ and comprises four themed areas and 60 unique environments. Omega Mart, which combines purchasable products with art installations, is more than double the size of Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return at 52,000 square feet.
It is home to interactive art, installation rooms, and portals to other worlds from artists such as Brian Eno, Amon Tobin, Shrine, Beach House and Android Jones. Products on offer at Omega Mart include Whale Song Antiperspirant/Antidepressant, Nebula Loaf, and Americanized Beef.
Additional attractions include a Tron-inspired office space set in a labyrinth-style maze called Dramcorp and an interactive playground called the Factory. It also includes a bar called Datamosh, as well as an area titled the Projected Desert that takes visitors to psychedelic realms.
4 Superblue, Miami
Superblue Miami recently launched in Florida with installations including an immersive environment by Es Devlin, a transcendent digital experience by teamLab, and a light-based Ganzfeld work by James Turrell. “Each of these artists provokes us to see our relationship to the world and each other in completely new ways,” said Superblue co-founder and CEO, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst.
“Superblue is at the forefront of how we experience immersive art,” said Dent-Brocklehurst. “The artists inaugurating it offer a glimpse into a new world and a completely new experience. We’re looking forward to welcoming the public to immerse themselves in the new worlds these artists have created.”
Superblue encourages visitors to enjoy experiential art outside of traditional museums and galleries. It was designed to showcase large-scale works that immerse and engage visitors as part of the art experience, with experiential art spread across 50,000 square feet. The venue also includes a flexible programming and events space, as well as an outdoor cafe, Blue Rider.
James Turrell’s AKHU is a large-scale installation that immerses guests in a room of monochrome lighting, while teamLab: Between Life and Non-Life is a series of interconnected artworks. Es Devlin’s Forest of Us begins as a movie, with visitors able to walk through the film into a mirror maze.
Superblue is a new company and venture dedicated to supporting artists and engaging audiences with experiential art. It plans to expand its art venues across the US and internationally. “Superblue was created in response to the public’s rapidly growing interest in experiential art that provokes new ways of understanding ourselves and the world around us,” said Marc Glimcher, co-founder of Superblue.
Therme Art, which is part of wellbeing organisation Therme Group, has become a strategic investor in Superblue. Therme Art works with artists and architects to commission and develop projects for wellbeing resorts. The company merges digital art experiences with wellness attractions.
5 Seismique, Houston
Seismique, an innovative and experiential art museum, recently launched in Houston, Texas. It is billed as a tech-driven ‘intergalactic playground’ with more than 40 unique ‘galaxies’ across 40,000 square feet.
It is inhabited by extra-terrestrial beings, and features artificial intelligence (AI), immersive experiences, gamification, projection mapping, sculptures of aliens, and “dazzling displays of light, color, and sound”.
Seismique is the brainchild of Steve Kopelman, principal and COO of Escape the Room, the largest escape room company in the US. “Seismique will transport locals and visitors alike to an entirely new and unforeseen universe of creative inspiration and artistic manifestation,” Kopelman said.
“The galaxies are designed to stimulate imagination, heighten curiosity, inspire wonder and, most importantly, deliver an extreme dose of fun.”
Seismique also has various event spaces for meetings, events, and live performances. To support the local artistic community, 12 of the attraction’s 40 galleries were reserved for Houston-based artists. Seismic also offers technology-driven educational workshops for students from local schools with a focus on STEAM (sciences, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics).
“We’ll have artists throughout the US,” Kopelman told blooloop. “And we’ve reserved at least a quarter of the spaces for Texans and people from our community. I think it’s a great stepping-stone to the traditional art gallery. Because most of the artists that will be involved won’t have great notoriety currently.”
“I think we’re going to tie in well with the experience economy,” he added. “Especially if we let the artists be artists and do their thing, and give what they feel. And we’ll add the technology and put different spins so that people will see something they’ve never seen before.”
6 teamLab, Tokyo
teamLab is an international collective of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects. Founded by Toshiyuki Inoko, teamLab has permanent art experiences in Shanghai, Tokyo and Macao. The group exhibits internationally, exploring the relationship between the self and the world through art.
“Physical media is no longer the limit,” teamLab told blooloop. “Digital technology has made it possible for artworks to expand physically. Art created using digital technology can easily expand. So, it provides us with a greater degree of autonomy within the space. We are now able to manipulate and use much larger spaces.”
teamLab Borderless first opened as a permanent museum in Tokyo in June 2018, followed by a teamLab Borderless in Shanghai. teamLab Borderless Jeddah is also launching in Saudi Arabia by 2023. teamLab Borderless offers an immersive experience where the visitor becomes part of the work, prompting changes in the art.
“teamLab Borderless is a group of artworks that form one borderless world,” said teamLab. “Here, we ask guests to wander, explore, and discover. Artworks also move out of the rooms freely. They form connections and relationships with people. The artworks communicate with, influence and sometimes intermingle with each other. They also have the same concept of time as the human body.
“People lose themselves in the artwork world. The borderless works transform according to the presence of people. As we immerse and meld ourselves into this unified world, we explore a continuity among people. It’s a new relationship that transcends the boundaries between people and the world.”
teamLab SuperNature Macao soft opened in June 2020 at the Venetian Macao, a permanent home for the collective’s immersive artworks in a labyrinthine space. Similar to Superblue, teamLab is also merging art and wellness with its latest digital art experience, TikTok teamLab Reconnect. TikTok teamLab Reconnect is an art and sauna exhibition in Tokyo where visitors experience the artworks while alternating hot saunas and cold baths before entering a neurological state called ‘sauna trance’.
7 Atelier des Lumières, Paris
Culturespaces, the French foundation specialising in immersive art experiences, opened its first digital art museum at Atelier des Lumières, a former foundry in Paris, in April 2018. Founded in 1990 by Bruno Monnier, Culturespaces operates the attraction, which surrounds visitors with projected masterpieces by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.
“Our mission is to make art more accessible to a wider and younger public,” said Monnier. “With the creation of our unique inclusive digital experiences, based on video, music and interactivity, we want to invite visitors of all backgrounds for a fascinating immersive journey into the artistic universe.”
Culturespaces expanded its offerings in November 2018 with a second venue in South Korea. The Bunker de Lumières is located in a former bunker on the Pacific island of Jeju. Bassins de Lumières opened in Bordeaux in June 2020, offering an immersive exploration of the works of Klimt and Paul Klee. The iconic works of art were recreated by digital artists before being brought to life by more than 100 Barco projectors.
“Bassins de Lumières offers a totally unique, sensory experience, including projected video, light and sound,” said Augustin de Cointet de Fillain, director of Bassins de Lumières. “The mix of the location, the recreated artwork from Klimt and Klee, and the superb image quality of Barco projectors make this exposition an unequalled experience.”
Barco is continuing its partnership with Culturespaces on its latest venture, Infinity des Lumières at the Dubai Mall. This will initially focus on the masterpieces of Van Gogh, as well as Japanese artists Hokusai and Kuniyoshi. “Infinity des Lumières is an inspiring and immersive experiential addition to the UAE’s art and culture industry that will attract both residents and visitors from all over the world,” said Catherine Oriol, director of Infinity des Lumières.
8 Artechouse, Miami
Artechouse first launched in 2017 in Washington, D.C. and now has venues in Miami and NYC. These innovative digital art spaces showcase experiential and technology-driven artworks. Artechouse, which opened in Miami in 2018, merges art, science and technology to stimulate the senses, with guests encouraged to interact with the exhibits.
“Miami’s art culture has really flourished in recent decades,” said Artechouse co-founder Tatiana Pastukhova. “We saw it as an opportunity for a place like Artechouse, where we can open up the dialogue about the future of the arts and introduce people to the arts and technology.”
“There are multiple ways of examining the relationship between art, science, and technology. Our focus is the use of technology in the creation of the new-media art,” Pastukhova added. “Living in a highly digital world, our lives are becoming more and more inseparable from the use of technology.”
Artechouse Miami’s 2021 programming includes an interactive exhibit created in collaboration with Vince Fraser, a London-based Afro-surrealist visual artist and illustrator. In D.C., Artechouse is putting on its fourth annual cherry blossom-inspired installation, Renewal 2121. Alongside the immersive art spaces, Artechouse features an extended reality (XR) mobile app.
9 Wisdome LA, Los Angeles
Wisdome LA, billed as “the world’s first fully immersive entertainment art park”, covers more than 35,000 square feet and comprises five enormous domes containing a sensory subjective experience where visitors participate in the immersive narrative. The domes, which were showcased at Burning Man and Coachella, include 360-degree projection mapping.
Blooloop spoke to George Aistov, Wisdome LA’s art producer, who explained: “We want to inspire people with ideas about the conscious entertainment of the future. We are trying to bring art, music, science, and spiritual ideas to an incredible venue, and shape it in a way that people can experience it as something new.
“Nowadays, everything is about the experience: don’t show me; make me feel it. Don’t show me ice cream; let me taste it.”
The venue, which is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19, opened back in 2019 with a visual art exhibition called Samskara. Created by digital artist Android Jones, Samskara included more than 70 works in 9 different formats, from digital canvases and dynamic sculptures to live performances and a spherical movie theatre.
“We aim to tell the story without an objective storyline, immersing people in sound and visuals, giving them a deeper experience, and bringing them to catharsis and giving them a deeper experience,” added Aistov. “So what I’m really doing is I’m bringing a viewer to catharsis.”
10 Otherworld, Columbus
Otherworld is an immersive art installation in Columbus, Ohio. Spread across 32,000 square feet, Otherworld boasts 40 scenes brimming with large-scale art, mixed reality (MR) playgrounds, puzzles and secret passageways. The art experience encourages visitors to explore and interact with a “surreal world of science fiction and fantasy”.
Otherworld was founded by Ohio artist Jordan Renda, who previously created and worked on haunted houses and escape rooms. “It’s a giant, explorable, interactive art installation,” said Renda. “It’s tied together with an underlying story that you can sort of piece together as you go.”
Otherworld elements include holograms, holodecks, 54 projectors, motion tracking cameras and 190,000 LEDs. The storyline is as follows: “You have volunteered as a beta tester at Otherworld Industries, a pioneering tech company specializing in alternate realm tourism.
“But upon arrival at the desolate research facility, you’re left on your own. Exploring restricted laboratories inevitably leads you to discover a gateway to bioluminescent dreamscapes featuring alien flora, primordial creatures, and expanses of abstract light and geometry.”
11 Immersive Van Gogh, Toronto
There are two different immersive Van Gogh experiences with very similar names; Immersive Van Gogh and Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.
Immersive Van Gogh merges state-of-the-art technology, theatrical storytelling and world-class animation, giving visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves inside the artworks of Vincent van Gogh. The installation includes The Potato Eaters (1885), Starry Night (1889), The Bedroom (1889) and Sunflowers (1888). Immersive Van Gogh is available across North America, from Phoenix to Toronto.
Last year, Immersive Van Gogh launched the world’s first drive-in art experience in Toronto. Gogh By Car was an innovative solution to welcoming guests during COVID-19. The immersive experience of sound, light, art and movement placed visitors in huge light projections of the artist’s famous artworks, including Starry Night and Sunflowers.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, not to be confused with Immersive Van Gogh, takes visitors on a journey through the world of Van Gogh.
The attraction explores his life, work and secrets through cutting-edge 360-degree digital projections, a VR experience and an atmospheric light and sound show. ‘A Day in the Life of the Artist in Arles, France’ is an additional experience where visitors take a virtual walk with Van Gogh to explore the countryside.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience recently launched at AREA15 in Las Vegas and in other US cities, including Atlanta, New York and Boston. This follows successful runs in Brussels, Naples, Tel Aviv, Beijing and Leicester.
“The Portal at AREA15 was created to stage exactly this sort of immersive, 360-degree experience,” said Winston Fisher, CEO of AREA15. “We’re thrilled to be the first US location to preview this mesmerizing, art-and-technology phenomenon celebrating the life and art of Van Gogh.”