To Gogh or not to Gogh: Is the Van Gogh Immersive Experience worth the hype?
Writer Varshini gives a (virtual) reality check on one of the most highly-anticipated and aesthetically pleasing events of the year.
The technology and art space have collided to give us a one-of-a-kind exhibition at Resorts World Sentosa, here in Singapore. The Van Gogh Immersive Experience opened its doors to the public last Wednesday and has garnered much attention for the offerings of seeing Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh, in a new light.
I had the opportunity to get a first look at the event, and for the price point of $24 per person, it is only fair for you to get an insight on what to expect.
A Little Background
The Van Gogh immersive experience is a popular art exhibition that has been taking place in various cities around the world. The exhibition features a collection of Vincent van Gogh's paintings and allows visitors to experience the art in a unique and interactive way, through AR and VR technology. The immersive experience is designed to give visitors a deeper appreciation for Van Gogh's art by allowing them to see and interact with the paintings in a way that is not possible in a traditional gallery setting.
Vincent van Gogh was a renowned Dutch post-Impressionist painter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists in the history of Western art. Van Gogh's paintings are known for their vivid colours, bold brushstrokes, and emotional intensity. He often used bright colours to express his emotions and depict the world around him, and his work is characterised by a sense of movement and energy.
My personal understanding of him started from the ubiquitous Starry Night in our Primary School lounges. His artistry even extends to providing us with one of the most highly sold auction paintings in the world, especially artworks like Irises and the Sunflowers series.
The Van Gogh Immersive Experience did a great job of sprucing up their space at The Forum, with a great mix of blues and yellows from Van Gogh’s two popular paintings, Sunflowers and Starry Night, creating an inviting and appealing atmosphere. We were greeted by a series of interactive installations, artwork displays, monographics as well as texts about the artist, his life and his masterpieces in the About the Artist segment. This space offers an in-depth look into his life’s story, such as his siblings, some of his art pieces, and detailed stories about the artist.
The main attraction of the exhibition lies at the foyer, which is known as The Immersive Room, a wondrous and truly immersive space depicting a 40-minute digital projection mapping showcase of Van Gogh’s most famous artworks, sprawled across all the surfaces of the room.
The sounds and digital projections were truly astounding and I found myself engrossed in the stunning light and audio show accompanying the projections, though the actual content of the movie felt a little generic and it only showcased the 10 most popular artworks of the painter (despite Van Gogh being known to have created over 2000 paintings over a decade). I would have loved to see less well-known works of Van Gogh’s being included.
Our Personal Favourites
We were particularly fascinated by the VR Immersive Room, dubbed A Day in the Life of the Artist in Arles, where visitors get to step into various Van Gogh paintings virtually, such as Two Crabs and the Sunflower Series. For a full 10 minutes, one will experience state-of-the-art technology and witness Van Gogh’s artworks come to life, encouraging closer examination and discovery of new aspects of his life, bringing the audience up close and personal to a whole new level.
Another feature that really caught my attention was a small extension showcasing some interesting Japanese art styles, also known as Japonisme , that inspired part of Van Gogh's signature art style. Introduced to the audience for the very first time at its debut in Singapore, the exhibition pays homage to Asian cultural practices within this zone. The room adds two novel introductions to the exhibition’s offerings, featuring traditional Japanese art style woodblocking and printing in an eye-catching digital display, as well as a matcha tea demonstration.
So, “To Gogh or not to Gogh”?
Debatable, though I would definitely commend the efforts in expressing traditional art in a different, cutting-edge manner. Overall, technology served as the anchor of the exhibition, as opposed to being an accessory to elevate the artwork.
As an avid art junkie, I was admittedly a little disappointed. I had expected the exhibition to utilise technology to pay homage to Van Gogh’s life, identity and significance to the art movements but it seems to have fallen short of that.
For more invested and versed art lovers, perhaps this is not a must-see, considering the steep price point. Nonetheless, the gorgeous striking digital walls are a feast for the eyes and senses.
It may not be particularly insightful but it is definitely a relaxing weekend activity. For those who are tech-oriented enthusiasts, this would be an interesting exhibit to check out to better understand the intersection of art and technology.
Side note: At the original exhibition in Amsterdam, the museum is likewise a space that celebrates and pays homage to Van Gogh. It gave me greater insight to his life, but more importantly, many other aspects of his psychology and identity that contributed to the work he produced. So, if you happen to be in Amsterdam, you might just want to check it out!