Introducing the Summer Road Trip Series! In addition to bringing you research and reviews from the art’s management and technology world, over the next few months the AMT-Lab team will be sharing stories of their interactions with art and technology from their travels over the summer. We hope our travels will inspire you to visit a new place on your summer vacation or spark a new idea to try out in your own institution!
The Dali Museum: St. Petersburg, Florida
This past March I traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida for a wedding, and I carved out some time to visit The Dali Museum, specifically to experience Dreams of Dali, a virtual reality experience which takes the viewer into some of the iconic imagery from, and influences by Dali’s art. Before my trip I read an article about the museum’s planned exhibit, Dali Lives, an AI experience designed to brings the artist to life and deepen the audience experience with stories from the artist about his life. However, upon arriving, guest services told me that Dali Lives was not installed yet (don’t worry, if you’re traveling to Florida it opened May 11th), but the VR experience was included in the admission price.
The special exhibit at the time was Magritte & Dali, a piece which explores a period in time when these prominent surrealists were creating very similar work. Little did I know that this exhibition also included interactive and photogenic elements such as a “cloud room” that projected images of perfectly puffy clouds across the walls, ceiling, and floor.
Magritte & Dali also had a room where guests could stand in front of a viewer and pose “in” a painting by either artist. My guest and I chose to do Son of Man by Magritte. Using an AR overlay, the visitor stands on a designated spot in front of the frame and uses their hand to activate and operate the camera, which counts down so that one may reposition themselves if need be. This area of the exhibition definitely invites selfies and social media posts. After the image has been taken it stays on the screen long enough for a lone viewer to snap the image for themselves.
After making our way out of the exhibition we toured the permanent collection, which houses the Dreams of Dali VR experience. The line for this was quite long, but the room was decorated with didactics explaining much of the imagery in the experience and connecting it with Dali’s work. There were two headsets, seats, and screens. The screens allow the waiting guests to see what the viewer is seeing inside the headset, and also serves as a sort of tutorial for how to navigate the artificial world. Once the headset is on, it is calibrated by focusing on a glowing orb, which also acts as the guide through the experience. The viewer starts off on the ground in a barren desert cast in a grayish dusk immediately facing Dali’s work Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus. The sounds of wind, gentle dreamlike music, a masculine voice, and others enhance the iconic images encountered throughout the experience.
VR offers ways to deepen the audience’s understanding of, and appreciation for, an artist and their work. For example, prior to doing Dreams of Dali, I had no idea that Dali had a relationship with musician Alice Cooper, but because of the accompanying wall didactics and the inclusion of a trippy image in the VR experience I had the opportunity to learn something about an artist beyond their art historical canon.
Dreams of Dali is ongoing and is also available for download for a personal VR system (Oculus or Vive) and you can watch a 360 degree tour of the environment here. If a trip to St. Petersburg or Tampa is on your list this summer be sure to check out the next technological experience Visual Magic: Dali’s Masterworks in Augmented Reality, on view June 15 - November 3, 2019