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Installation artists have long developed fully immersive multisensory experiences, pulling viewers into alternate realities and new worlds. Now they have a slate of new technologies at their disposal to heighten these experiences, blurring the lines between physical and digital realms. Alienarium 5, an exhibition by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, uses technologies such as AR and VR to produce images of holographic aliens and simulations of extraterrestrial life. The experience is further enhanced with sound and smell. Ohio-based Otherworld offers 32,000 square feet and 47 interactive rooms including bioluminescent landscapes and imaginative playgrounds. In New York, “Wonderland Dreams” is an immersive 3D painting created by artists Alexa Meade and Catching Flights. Emulating “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and called the “largest continuous painting in the world,” the piece allows visitors to step into the physical space that the fictional painted landscape occupies. Walt Disney has partnered with Lighthouse Immersive, the company behind exhibits like “Immersive Van Gogh” and “Immersive King Tut,” to launch a live experience celebrating several iconic animated franchises. Lasting 60 to 90 minutes, the exhibit allows guests to interact with different displays and be immersed in projections and screens that depict how an animated film is created. Unlike traditional museums, immersive installations do not rely on displaying rare objects that can be present at one location at a time. These works of art can be reproduced on an industrial scale. If the material is licensed, it can theoretically be displayed anywhere in the world at the same time, creating a cultural momentum not previously possible. Immersive art functions less like a museum or gallery and more like a tech platform, enabling a large-scale collective experience. While many immersive art experiences have been temporary, a venue in London called Frameless is the first permanent space of this kind. Investors have already latched on: Goldman Sachs led a funding round that pulled in $227 million for Fever Labs, the company that created “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.” This marks the largest-ever round of funding for a live-entertainment startup. VictorXR, a VR- and AR-based education company, is developing immersive experiences for students on T-Mobile’s 5G network. On its platform, students can dissect virtual 3D frogs and attend 360 field trips ranging from the Colosseum in Rome to a farm in the Midwestern US. As online education spreads, 5G coverage becomes more important, because truly immersive education experiences require fast connectivity. The best current examples of such immersive experiences are found in other sectors. Mohx-Games is using T-Mobile’s 5G to enable fans to feel as though they are sitting in the front row at a concert. Others, like EE and BT Sport, seek to do the same for sporting events.

Immersive experiences

KEY TRENDS

Extended Reality