Living in the digital age has changed every aspect of our lives — including art. ARTECHOUSE, D.C.’s first interactive digital art gallery, brings a stunning 21st century art experience that unifies art, nature and technology in its exhibit “New Nature,” which opened Friday.
Marpi, a San Francisco-based artist, created organic forms — creatures that looked almost like sentient alien plants — using graphics and computer visuals. Visitors get to interact with Marpi’s creatures using motion sensing software and real-time computer graphics.
When visitors first walk in, they are led to a large, open room with a 24-foot tall projection of a “real-time generative pattern” meant to resemble a virtual terrarium, according to ARTECHOUSE’s website. The huge graphic responds to the audience and different, smaller graphics form when you step close enough to represent your own body and movements. ARTECHOUSE also advertised an app where people can interact with the original large animation by feeding and playing with it on their phones.
In a smaller gallery, there’s a long, snake-like projection onto the wall and floor. As visitors run down the hallway, the creatures twist and “chase” after them. There’s also a digital forest in another room, where colorful, tall, tree-like figures light up as you walk past them.
One of the most fun galleries was the digital petting zoo, with 13 different touchscreens that detect your hand movements. In each screen sits one of Marpi’s creatures, and they each respond to touching, petting and grabbing, among other interactions. The creatures are bizarre and beautiful at the same time.
“New Nature” is unique and fun for all ages. Children and adults alike will enjoy this exhibit because visitors are encouraged to move, dance, run and play. Interacting with Marpi’s odd creatures is fascinating; petting and touching them is mesmerizing, and the experience puts many people in a type of trance.
The exhibit created a peaceful atmosphere, with soft, ambient background music. The colors, the sounds, the visuals — it all puts the audience in a different place. The graphics that created these otherworldly animals are detailed and intricate; they look incredibly real. When they react to you and move with you, it feels like they are really living and breathing. My favorite creature was even a little ticklish.
“New Nature” was unlike any art exhibit I’ve seen before. The creativity and oddness was intriguing for anyone, regardless of age or art knowledge. The exhibit was impressive, but more importantly, it’s fun. Marpi’s creatures will be available for play until Jan. 13 at ARTECHOUSE.