Stepping into water dyed with colors, swimming underneath a digital waterfall or diving under a pool of candies, are the first experiences that make you dream, feel and have fun in a space.
In the modern post-Fordian or post-industrial society, having things has lost its importance. Desires and experiences become the main aspiration. The dissatisfaction with routine and daily life possibly spark the continual search of emotions, associating them with moments of happiness and pleasure.
What does experience mean in the context of cultural tourism? The experience is an act, something that happens, that produces an emotional impact and leaves an impression on someone. Because of this, in the market of emotions, the focus and center of attention are the people, with their life experiences and emotions, and so, the design of cultural spaces has undergone a paradigm shift.
Exhibition design ceases to be purely aesthetic and rational. Spaces appear to be festive and have a large performance-style format. Through the projections and physical scenography, multi-sensory routes and immersive experiences with great emotional impact are created.
The 7 Cultural Experiences is only a selection of the experience market which is in pure expansion.
1. Immersion in digital art
Current digital exhibits are in essence a sampling of the fusion between art, technology, and immersion. They are large-format audiovisual performances created through video projections. Walls and floors of the exhibition halls and museums are converted into 360º immersive environments (or almost), that engulf the visitors in virtual worlds.
In the first installations of digital art, which the teamLab group completed in 2016 for the temporary exhibition Future World of ArtScience Museum of Singapore, their rooms appeared to be constantly changing and moving, generating spaces that are fluid, alive and interactive.
The same team continued in Tokyo, opening the MORI Building Digital Art Museum in the summer of 2018, which became the first digital art museum. In some of its rooms, the visitors can interact in real-time by touching and dissolving flower petals, changing the direction of virtual waterfalls or influencing the flight of birds.
At the same time, multi-use, semi-shadowed spaces are born, as in the case of the old factory Carrieres de Lumieres in Les Baux-de-Provence and that of the Atelier de Lumières de París. They are divided by partition walls and screens in which the paintings of the most famous artists are projected. The works of Klimt, Monet, Renoir, Chagall or Van Gogh are exhibited in a totally immersive way, allowing the visitors to enter into their works. These are temporary exhibitions that last from two to three months, offering multi-sensory routes that can be explored freely, without objects or displays.
The Fake Factory in Florence is another cultural space with a long exhibition history, which is specialized in video art projects, immersive art and video design. Among the most notable immersive exhibitions, we find a long list of experiences such as Caravaggio Experiece, Klimt Experience or Monet Experience.
2. Installations with mirrors
Over the centuries, mirrors have been used to predict the future, and different religions have used them in rituals and magic. Today, social media and the selfie phenomena have turned the mirror into the element that focuses photographs. The new installations with mirrors, whose origins can be found in the medieval markets, offer immersive experiences of reflected realities.
The 86 year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has been working with mirrors since 1960. Unknown until recently, and thanks to millennials, her work has become world famous. Among her installations, Infinite room is the most well-known. In it, due to a kaleidoscopic effect, the illusion of a fusion between real and virtual is generated, with infinite and magical results. Thanks to the reduced size of her creations, the transportation and installation in quick and easy, allowing many people around the world to visit and experience her work.
Within the world of immersive experiences with mirrors, in the previously mentioned MORI in Tokyo, teamLab created the Forest of Resonating Lamps. Also in this world of mirrors we find The mirror room – immersive art in the Fake Factory.
3. Pop-Up Experiences
The pop-up exhibit is a temporary artistic event, less formal than an art gallery or museum but more formal than an art show with private works. Pop-up is often associated with the emergence, the fleeting, the temporary, flexibility and adaptability to what is occurring.
Originally, the pop-ups were born as an alternative to traditional art galleries and represented a short-duration art exhibition.
Due to the high cost of rent and the space limitations for existing exhibitions in the United States, organizing an exhibition for young artists was not easy. Pop-ups solved this problema. Without incurring large expenses for the supervision and organization, it has become the model for new artist exhibitions. The idea of the pop-up which originated in New York in 2007 has already made its way around the world.
The next generation of the pop-up has gone beyond the boundaries of modern art and has extended into entertainment spaces which are highly dynamic and highly advertised. Contrary to the majority of the traditional art museums, where touching objects and taking photos is limited, the new pop-ups are photogenic and interactive. The main difference between these and classical exhibition spaces is that these animate and invite the visitor to interact and experiment with the objects. The new artistic installations, their lighting, forms and color are put on stage for the purpose of interaction and the visitor experience, resulting in what are called Pop-up experience.
In the year 2019, the community of Instagrammers reached 1 billion active monthly users. Their passion for photographing makes them igers, a word used to identify the people who are very active on Instagram for frequently posting and interacting on a daily basis.
With their smartphone in their heads, they record and store gigabytes of photos. They find and capture the surprises of everyday life, apply filters according to their emotional states and share it on social networks.
Influenced by this trend, since 2016 museums began to create exhibitions called “Instagram-ready”, that is, ephemeral, immersive spaces with visual experiences, intended or designed so that Instagrammers can take selfies in them and share their experiences in the networks.
Eager to learn, exchange knowledge and travel, since 2011 instagramers have organized InstaMeets in the most emblematic cities of the world. Today it is estimated that there are 520 instameets worldwide. From their photographic experiences, they create thematic routes, popularize destinations and attract new audiences to hidden and unknown places, generating new models of cultural tourism. They are protagonists in participating and organizing exhibitions.
Igersmap is the first map of the world created by and for instagrammers. It has 9 Spanish cities and the main objective is to discover the favorite places of local instagrammers.
5. Escape rooms
An Escape Room is a room in which a group of between 8 and 10 people is enclosed, and in order to exit, they have to solve a series of clues. Often, this game is based on scenarios inspired by adventure and mystery movies and books. Immersion in the world of storytelling, competition or entertainment mixed with learning historical facts, are some
Escape room is a tool to attract new audiences that museums are discovering. Museums such as Villa Mondriaan of Winterswijk or the Augusta Museum of History have been applying it for a long time and talk about its advantages.
Another example is Alita’s room: Angel of Combat — Passport to the City of Iron, inspired by the script of the trilogy of the science fiction movie Alita. Three months before its launch, its stage was used to create an Escape room with an intriguing plot.
6. Resurrecting characters through artificial intelligence
One of the applications of artificial intelligence technology is to resurrect characters and be able to revive them. From the 3D scan of a real person, with the help of programming and artificial intelligence, the scan information is processed and a digital model person is generated that is able to speak and answer live questions from the visitors.
This is the case of the victims of the Holocaust that were recorded at the Holocaust Museum in Illinois.
Another example is the hologram of the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí that welcomes visitors to the exhibition “Dalí Lives”, recently opened at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
7. Open-air experiences
The experiences take to the streets and invade and bathe facades, buildings, public spaces, cafes, castles, parks, gardens … nowadays everything is themable.
Projections of concepts or images, lights, mappings, electronic sound landscapes, are contemporary works of art that are temporarily installed during the festivals of lights and local festivals of cultures.
Examples of such installations are teamLab’s works at the Shimogamo Shrine Festival of Light in Kyoto, the installation A Forest Where the Gods Live, Ruins and Heritage at Mifuneyama Rakuen in Saga or the work Colors: The Artistic Experience of Ponte Vecchio of The Fake Factory company exhibited at the festival of light in Florence among many.