Immersive art experiences are increasingly becoming prominent in the world of contemporary art as the artistic scope lies beyond the 2D, or even 3D, and offers artists with a new kind of creative freedom and scope. Perhaps what makes them so popular is their ability to develop a sort of intimacy with the audience, where experiencing art isn’t solely for the artists, curators or other art-related professionals who can decode or comprehend the artwork, but rather for anyone.
From October 18 to 24, 2019, then, Atelier des Lumières, the digital art centre of Paris, presented the Immersive Art Festival, dedicated to immersive digital design. The exhibition that opened at 7p.m. each night displayed the works of 11 artists’ collectives, including Spectre Lab (France), Paul Mignot (France), The Vandals (France), Hki (France), Superbien (France), Cokau Lab (France), Ouchhh (Turkey), Nohlab (Turkey), Void (Turkey), Create (Belgium), Algorithm (Ireland) and a Special Guest student project – Cutback. The works, which were specifically adapted to and designed for the venue, combined video, photo, motion design and sound spatialisation, employing over 140 video projectors, 50 speakers and 3,000 m2 of projected surface.
Digital design uses computer-generated images to create experiential spaces that audiences can immerse into and interact with. The projected images are often combined with soundscapes, creating alternate worlds to be experienced. The festival, then, was intended to bring digital design into the mainstream of art, presenting it as a field of its own.
The President of Culturespaces and founder of the Atelier des Lumières, Bruno Monnier, said, “By creating a venue devoted to immersive art in the heart of Paris, Culturespaces has taken one more step towards cultural democratisation and innovation. Modern technology has provided new ways of bringing together works that are dispersed around the world, enabling visitors to discover them, and sharing them. It is a new way of apprehending artists and their works. We would like to go even further through more innovation, by improving our technology, and by working closely with digital artists. That is why we have launched the Immersive Art Festival, which enables the general public to discover works by digital design artists. With this festival, we wish to establish digital design as an art in its own right and participate in the debate on immersive art. We are hoping to hold another edition of this event and extend it to all our digital art centres.”
For the first time, the participants were also automatically part of a competition, the winners of which were decided by a professional design jury and visitors, who could vote there and then on a dedicated mobile application. The criteria for rating included artistic storytelling, quality of graphics and sound design quality.
The festival venue, however, presented quite a challenge for the artists as the creation of 360-degree works requires not just an expertise in technology use and digital design, but the aesthetics and storytelling capacity to create an all-round immersive experience. As Michael Couzigou, Director of the Immersive Art Festival, described it, “This art encompasses many more forms of expression, which are often defined by the technology used: generative art, virtual art, audiovisual art, digital installations, and so on.”
Nevertheless, despite its inaugural edition, the event was one of the most sought after events to attend and the Atelier des Lumières has successfully carved a space for immersive art on the itinerary of must-see contemporary art across the world.