When we think “art museum,” we often imagine silent paintings from long-gone eras, and smooth white sculptures of curly-haired Greeks, bestowed with the names of ancient gods that no one worships anymore. But in the age of experiential modern art, when the sudden spring of technology has allowed for the concept of “art” to expand into even more mediums of expression, the still lifes of the Renaissance become as much history as they are art.
Today’s most stunning exhibits often take full advantage of the use of technology and architecture to expand art into something interactive and immersive (with the kinds of signs that say, “Please do touch”). At this crux of art and technology, we find trendy (albeit vapid) Instagram dreams, but also creative displays that turn our world into something a little more magical. Here are some of the most extraordinary experiential art exhibits to learn more about:
1. Rain Room by Random International
Tragically, Rain Room has been closed for about a year now—although there are rumors more will appear throughout the world soon. It was acquired by LACMA in Los Angeles, California, and uses 10 3D cameras to prevent its torrential downpour from landing on your head. Assuming you don’t wear stripes or polyester, which the cameras have trouble picking up on, you can walk through Rain Room without a drop of water landing on you—while standing in the midst of a storm.
Through the use of light, sound, water, and technology, this art exhibit becomes both an experience of machines at work, and a commentary on them. In an LA Times article on the exhibit, one of its creators said, “We’re exploring the consequences of living in a machine-led world… In the Rain Room we amplify one aspect of that, which is a space that permanently sees you and observes you. It’s a surveillance machine in a way.”
2. Your Rainbow Panorama by Olafur Eliasson
In Aarhus, Denmark, atop the ARoS Art Museum, there is a loop walkway made of rainbow glass, that gives you a view of the city like no other. It both involves you in the art that is the structure itself, and presents you with a view that it plays no part in.
To quote the artist himself, “Your rainbow panorama establishes a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what was already there, that is to say the view across the city. I have created a space that can almost be said to erase the boundary between inside and outside—a place where you become a little uncertain as to whether you have stepped into a work of art or into part of the museum.”
3. Future World by teamLab
At the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, you can engage with Future World, an exhibit of interactive light, screens, and architecture. The interactive exhibit encourages both adults and children to play, explore, and become inspired by work that balances art, science, and technology.
You can observe 100 years of time in minutes, enter a crystal universe that appears to go on forever, and draw life into a virtual ecosystem. The award-winning creators of Future World strive to exemplify with their many unique exhibits how far technology has come, and how far it could continue to go.
4. As We Are by Matthew Mohr and Design Communications Ltd.
You can find As We Are at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio. Using LED screens and a 3D photo booth, visitors can become the art itself. The 14-foot tall head displays the faces of all those who step into the booth, with the goal of focusing on the individual and displaying the diversity of the local population and visitors who come on in.
Matthew Mohr, the Columbus artist who conceived the concept, said of the work, “Through magnification, the sculpture recontextualizes each participant and asks all who see their portrait to consider who that person is and the life they lead.”
5. Nimis by Lars Vilks
In the micronation of Ladonia, you can find (and climb upon) an enormous series of driftwood sculptures. Created by artist Lars Vilks in 1980, towering sculpture Nimis has actually been the subject of debate, as it was not discovered for two years, and then declared an illegal building by the local council. As it is not sanctioned by Sweden, Nimis is difficult to find, but well worth the journey.