DREAMLAND -Crystalline THC from Cannabis

NOTES FROM THE STUDIO/LAB: A Walk Through the "Van Gogh Immersive Experience." 


When the "Immersive Van Gogh" exhibit came to Phoenix, we were anxious to check it out. I had been fortunate enough to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam some years back, and to experience firsthand the power Van Gogh's paintings have on the viewer was something special.
The "immersive" exhibit allows you to step into the artist's work. This is not a static 3D Powerpoint presentation. The colors wash over you with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall projection mapping, showcasing many of Van Gogh's most iconic paintings in a 45-minute presentation that is played in a continuous loop.

There is no chronological order to the artwork shown, not a problem for some viewers, but Van Gogh's life and artistic growth are very familiar to me; the two are intimately connected, so this lack of story and flow was noticeably distracting.  The projections are also sometimes animated, the quality of which varies from intriguing and compelling to poorly executed cartoon puppet theater.

There is an accompanying musical soundtrack, created by Luca Longobardi, a journey of classical and contemporary fusion. The style varies from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," a perfect choice as it was composed during Van Gogh's lifetime and in remembrance for an artist who died young, to Edith Piaf's ‘Non, Je ne Regrette Rien’ which while enjoyable, has little to connect it with Van Gogh's time or place.

If great art inspires the viewer to contemplate, question, or perhaps even act, then it has been a success, and for that I give the "Immersive Van Gogh" high marks. There much to enjoy, and I would recommend it. For me, in its most inspiring moments, it was less about Van Gogh's life and art than the technological potential for ways to present and share art. Indeed, there are now immersive Monet, Klimt, Kahlo and King Tut exhibits to wander and ponder through. 

Immersive crystals, anyone?

Situated atop a rocky hill above the Dara River in Granada, Spain, lies one of the world's most stunning combinations of art and architecture, the Alhambra. I was fortunate enough to see firsthand the 14th-century palace and its awe-inspiring decorative splendor on a visit in 2016.

Surrounded by lush gardens of oranges and roses, the Alhambra’s inner courtyards, pools, and fountains lead to rooms adorned with a myriad of geometric patterned tiles along their lower walls, while above, elegantly carved stucco seems to occupy every inch of the upper reaches.

Vintage postcard of the Al Ahambra
Nearly 100 years before my visit, a young Dutch landscape artist and printmaker named M.C. Escher walked those same paths. Then in his 20s, his Alhambra visit was to begin a creative journey into the properties and artistic possibilities first created by Islamic artisans more than 500 years earlier.

Mathematicians refer to the patterns that caught Escher's imagination as "tessellations,"  repeating geometric patterns that fill a space without overlapping. Although he did not have a strong foundation in mathematics, his artwork eventually led to lifelong collaborations with mathematicians and scientists.  During much of his life, the art world largely ignored his groundbreaking work. In the scientific community, however, he was becoming a rock star.

                Reptiles- M.C.Escher

Escher's first big break would come when the International Mathematical Congress was held in his hometown of Amsterdam in 1954. It was on their initiative that Escher got a large exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art and design. Escher's fame in popular culture was to take hold when his work was featured in the May 1966 edition of Scientific American magazine.
M.C. Escher's creative journey was influenced profoundly by his Alhambra visit. His encounters with the work of artisans from a half millennium earlier set him on a transformative artistic journey wholly unexpected and unpredictable but critical to building the grand mosaic that defined his artist life.

                Hand with Relecting Sphere -M.C. Escher, self-portrait
It is a distinctly human trait that the impossible is viewed as a puzzle waiting to be solved- Ashley Strickland author



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