Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2023) | Viewed by 28684

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Professor, Department of the History of Art & Architecture, Faculty in Residence, Clark Honors College, Eugene, OR, USA
Interests: contemporary art and theory; late 20th- and early 21st-century art, theory, and criticism; cultural, social, and aesthetic possibilities of new technologies; screen-based media art and theory; installation art; feminism; digital culture; science and technology studies; digital humanities; contemplative research

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Guest Editor
History of Art & Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA
Interests: contemporary art and theory; intersections of art and technology; installation art; modern and contemporary Japanese art; history of new media art in Japan; documentation and preservation of new media art; digital humanities; curatorial studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Immersive exhibitions have a long history in modern and contemporary art. The metaphor of immersion implies a plunge into an all-encompassing environment, where audiences are seemingly transported into alternate, virtual realities. From panoramas and 3D cinemas to site-specific installations and performances, a wide variety of mediums, practices, and sites have framed immersive experiences in exhibition contexts. Emerging technologies have also played a significant role in this history, as the capabilities of carousel slide projectors, IMAX screens, digital projection mapping, and virtual and augmented reality assist in the transformation of “real” space into “virtual” space.

This Special Issue of Arts considers the role of new technologies in facilitating immersive art exhibitions. How do histories of technology intersect with histories of immersion and the virtual? How do new technologies influence artistic practices such as installation art, performance, or exhibition design? How does technology—broadly defined—impact how audiences experience and interact with exhibition spaces?

“Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions” welcomes contemporary and historical analyses of immersive technologies and exhibition practices. Potential topics may include: the recent proliferation of immersive, interactive, and experimental art spaces such as Superblue, Artechouse, Meow Wolf, teamLab, and Immersive van Gogh/Klimt/Kahlo; media archaeologies of immersive technology in art; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality in artistic practice; exhibition design intended to envelop audiences in other worlds; and reflections of immersive experience in design, the performing arts, land/environmental art, architecture, and other site-based practices.

Prof. Dr. Kate Mondloch
Dr. Emily Lawhead
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • immersive exhibitions
  • art and technology
  • virtual realities
  • histories of immersion
  • exhibition design
  • technologies of attention
  • installation and performance art

Published Papers (9 papers)

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14 pages, 3674 KiB  
Article
Connection: Digitally Representing Australian Aboriginal Art through the Immersive Virtual Museum Exhibition
by Rui Zhang and Fanke Peng
Arts 2024, 13(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010009 - 27 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2096
Abstract
In 2022, the National Museum of Australia launched an immersive virtual exhibition of Australian Aboriginal art: Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples, which was created and produced by Grande Experiences, the same team that produced the multisensory experience Van Gogh Alive [...] Read more.
In 2022, the National Museum of Australia launched an immersive virtual exhibition of Australian Aboriginal art: Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples, which was created and produced by Grande Experiences, the same team that produced the multisensory experience Van Gogh Alive. The exhibition employs large-scale projections and cutting-edge light and sound technology to offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the intricate network of Australian Aboriginal art, which is an ancient pathway of knowledge that traverses the continent. Serving as the gateway to the Songlines universe, the exhibition invites visitors to delve into the profound spiritual connections with the earth, water, and sky, immersing them in a compellingly rich and thoroughly captivating narrative with a vivid symphony of sound, light, and color. This article examines Connection as a digital storytelling platform by exploring the Grande Experiences company’s approach to the digital replication of Australian Aboriginal art, with a focus on the connection between humans and nature in immersive exhibition spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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14 pages, 2320 KiB  
Article
Old Is the New: Immersive Explorations in Another Beautiful Country—Moving Images by Chinese American Artists
by Jenny Lin
Arts 2023, 12(6), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12060224 - 28 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1388
Abstract
This article explores how diasporic Chinese video artists present familial histories and tales of cross-cultural exchange in the context of an exhibition I am curating, Another Beautiful Country: Moving Images by Chinese American Artists, at the University of Southern California (USC) Pacific [...] Read more.
This article explores how diasporic Chinese video artists present familial histories and tales of cross-cultural exchange in the context of an exhibition I am curating, Another Beautiful Country: Moving Images by Chinese American Artists, at the University of Southern California (USC) Pacific Asia Museum. I discuss projects by featured artists Richard Fung and Patty Chang. These artists’ experimental documentaries and performative videos foster deep personal discoveries that defy the late-capitalist obsession with the new as defined by youth, novelty, and the next trend, providing revelatory insights through recuperative engagements with what has come before. In analyzing artworks by Fung and Chang, I also reference related texts by/about artists and historical figures including Walter Benjamin, Anna May Wong, and Zhang Ailing, who emigrated from the People’s Republic of China to the United States in the 1950s and whose special collections in the USC Libraries helped inform the exhibition’s programming. I also interweave my own related familial histories and share some (not-so-new) curatorial ideas for immersing audiences in intercultural art and reflection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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14 pages, 3197 KiB  
Article
Contemplating Light: Experiencing Victor Moscoso’s Psychedelic Lithographs in the Museum
by Aleisha Barton
Arts 2023, 12(5), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12050213 - 27 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2326
Abstract
Beginning in 1966, Victor Moscoso designed many of his psychedelic posters for the stroboscopic light shows of the San Francisco dance halls. Moscoso innovated a new mode of print that depended on its environment—kinetic lithography, a product of creative experimentation. He developed multiple [...] Read more.
Beginning in 1966, Victor Moscoso designed many of his psychedelic posters for the stroboscopic light shows of the San Francisco dance halls. Moscoso innovated a new mode of print that depended on its environment—kinetic lithography, a product of creative experimentation. He developed multiple iterations of this medium; however, installing it outside of its original context of the psychedelic dance hall continues to pose a unique challenge for preparators and curators alike. Today, museum display of his works relies upon experimental settings to activate his site-specific design. This article considers how immersive displays and antistatic artworks demand a new kind of relationship between visitor and artwork by decentering the museum’s longstanding emphasis on the optical, a regime that has long served to frame posters and ephemera in contexts of display rather than as active objects. By analyzing two recent exhibitions displaying Moscoso’s kinetic lithographs (The Summer of Love Experience, 2017, and Moscoso Cosmos, 2021), this article considers the mechanics of the print itself, curatorial decisions, and visitor engagement to assess the site-specific demands of a genre-bending medium. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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13 pages, 843 KiB  
Article
Augmented Reality and the Dematerialization of Experiential Art
by Dawna Schuld
Arts 2023, 12(3), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030116 - 2 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1742
Abstract
One of the most compelling effects of digitally enhanced and digitally enabled immersive exhibitions is their paradoxical dematerialization of “analog” experience. What leads exhibition visitors to accept that immersion is a state achieved only through technological mediation? Are we not already perceptually immersed [...] Read more.
One of the most compelling effects of digitally enhanced and digitally enabled immersive exhibitions is their paradoxical dematerialization of “analog” experience. What leads exhibition visitors to accept that immersion is a state achieved only through technological mediation? Are we not already perceptually immersed in the world, as the phenomenologists asserted? This essay explores how digital enhancement disengages self-awareness by masquerading as immersion. In contrast, contemporary artists Karin Sander, Janet Cardiff, and Chris Salter employ desynchronizing and dislocating tactics to challenge naïve notions of what comprises an aesthetic experience, in order to requaint viewers with their own perceptual and ethical agency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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25 pages, 24397 KiB  
Article
A Geography of the Screen: Mapmaking as Bridge between Film and Curatorial Production Processes
by Ben Evans James
Arts 2023, 12(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030094 - 6 May 2023
Viewed by 2198
Abstract
Both mapping and artist documentary filmmaking offer us subjective translations of reality and strategies to relate to and represent space, sharing analogous methods of production that allow for a useful application of the spatial language of mapmaking to filmmaking. Immersing the film process [...] Read more.
Both mapping and artist documentary filmmaking offer us subjective translations of reality and strategies to relate to and represent space, sharing analogous methods of production that allow for a useful application of the spatial language of mapmaking to filmmaking. Immersing the film process within the language of mapmaking can then act as a bridge into the spatial practices of the gallery environment, curatorial practice, and exhibition design. This process is defined here as “film-mapping” and is investigated through the development of the work For the Record by Phanuel Antwi and Rhea Storr commissioned by the transmediale festival in Berlin (2021), for which the author of the present paper is the film curator. A process for film-mapping is laid out according to three stages: (1) Compose the Territory, (2) Define the Legend, and (3) Set the Modality. Understanding the production of For the Record through this mapping terminology enriches the spatial understanding of the work, providing a translation device between filmmaking and curatorial practice and mediating between the disciplines by providing a shared language. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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18 pages, 69573 KiB  
Article
Continuity: Sharing Space in teamLab’s Digital Ecosystems
by Emily Lawhead
Arts 2023, 12(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12020074 - 7 Apr 2023
Viewed by 3579
Abstract
In 2021, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco inaugurated the opening of its new contemporary wing with teamLab: Continuity. The immersive exhibition spanned six galleries and was fully interactive via sensors and digital projection mapping technology; flowers bloom and grow, flying crows [...] Read more.
In 2021, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco inaugurated the opening of its new contemporary wing with teamLab: Continuity. The immersive exhibition spanned six galleries and was fully interactive via sensors and digital projection mapping technology; flowers bloom and grow, flying crows burst into colorful chrysanthemums, and butterflies are born or killed at a moment’s touch. The digital objects dynamically interact with one another and with humans, blurring boundaries between art, participant, and technology. This article examines Continuity as a “collective interactive experience” situated within a digital ecosystem. It explores teamLab’s approach to the natural environment and its digital replication, with a focus on the relationship between humans and machines in shared exhibition spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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18 pages, 6253 KiB  
Article
Becoming (Un)Masked: Semiotics of Identification in Nick Cave’s Hy-Dyve
by Cristina Albu
Arts 2023, 12(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12020053 - 13 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1564
Abstract
Displayed in a Kansas City neighborhood with a history of blockbusting, Nick Cave’s 14-channel video installation Hy-Dyve confronted viewers with a visceral sense of entrapment in traumatizing spaces of racism. The immersive environment portrayed deeply moving experiences of confinement and concealment, connecting narratives [...] Read more.
Displayed in a Kansas City neighborhood with a history of blockbusting, Nick Cave’s 14-channel video installation Hy-Dyve confronted viewers with a visceral sense of entrapment in traumatizing spaces of racism. The immersive environment portrayed deeply moving experiences of confinement and concealment, connecting narratives of the Middle Passage to present fears of racial profiling. Shown at different scales on the dilapidated walls of a deconsecrated church, the video images enabled visitors to sense what it feels like to be exposed to a scrutinizing and categorizing gaze. Building on Gilles Deleuze’s theory of close-up operations, I explore how Cave both showcases and subverts the visual rhetoric of surveillance, inviting viewers to suspend processes of individuation and embrace alterity. I offer a semiotic analysis of the visual motifs in Hy-Dyve and show how their unstable meanings heighten the potential for immersion in conjunction with the projection mapping technique. The entanglement of video images with crumbling architectural features destabilizes perception and fosters reflection on the imbrication of past and present realities of racial discrimination. Placing Hy-Dyve in the broader context of Cave’s body of work, I suggest that it conjoins two different sides of his practice: a post-black approach to issues of identity which is consonant with his Soundsuits and a more radical activist stance which addresses the particularities of black experience and the burdening history of racial abuse. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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16 pages, 2242 KiB  
Article
The Influencers: Van Gogh Immersive Experiences and the Attention-Experience Economy
by Kate Mondloch
Arts 2022, 11(5), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11050090 - 20 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 8779
Abstract
Van Gogh immersive exhibitions—multi-sited, branded multimedia environments inspired by the artist’s life and paintings—are seemingly ubiquitous in 2022. These itinerant digital spectacles bundle reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s most recognizable artistic motifs with tropes of fin-de-siècle madness, bathing their visitors in an artistic [...] Read more.
Van Gogh immersive exhibitions—multi-sited, branded multimedia environments inspired by the artist’s life and paintings—are seemingly ubiquitous in 2022. These itinerant digital spectacles bundle reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s most recognizable artistic motifs with tropes of fin-de-siècle madness, bathing their visitors in an artistic wonderland of projected images and soundscapes spread throughout cavernous exhibition venues. The popularity of these commercial juggernauts is unmatched. At present, at least five different companies are staging competing versions of digital Van Gogh art exhibitions in dozens of cities worldwide, with a particular emphasis at present on sites throughout North America. How are we as art critics to make sense of these exhibitions as well as their influence within the institutional context of the visual arts? Taking the digital Van Gogh phenomenon as its central case study, this article investigates the emerging art-themed immersive exhibition model and explores the specific mode of spectatorship it promotes. Situating these projects within the broader framework of the contemporaneous attention and experience economies, and with an eye toward the crucial role of social media, I propose that art-themed immersive exhibitions such as the Van Gogh immersive experiences exemplify habits of digitally-mediated, 24/7 immersive attention and consumption in art and in everyday life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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10 pages, 2555 KiB  
Essay
On Hijacking LED Walls
by Mathilde Roman
Arts 2023, 12(3), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030108 - 26 May 2023
Viewed by 1479
Abstract
In recent years, the LED walls originally used in outdoor spaces by advertising companies to extend the consumption of images in our daily life have been appropriated by artists and installed in gallery spaces. When viewed nearby or when walking around them, LED [...] Read more.
In recent years, the LED walls originally used in outdoor spaces by advertising companies to extend the consumption of images in our daily life have been appropriated by artists and installed in gallery spaces. When viewed nearby or when walking around them, LED walls become in some way dysfunctional: The images fade, points and color distortions appear, and the spectacle of the machine interruputs our habitual viewing patterns. This article focuses on three recent works which disrupt immersive viewing regimes through what I call “hijacking” advanced LED technology. Lucy Raven (Tucson, AZ, USA), Demolition of a Wall (Album 2), 2022. Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Helsinki, Finland), Potentiality for Love, 2018. Marco Fusinato (Sidney, Australia), Desastres, Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2022. These three artists use the sculptural and spectacular effect of freestanding LED walls to call attention to our habitual capitalist relation to LED technology. Through performative or narrative pieces, these artists deploy poetic and artistic effects to explore the politics of technological immersion in capitalist societies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Framing the Virtual: New Technologies and Immersive Exhibitions)
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