Visualize standing in the middle of a vast hall. Complete darkness engulfs the room. You can almost feel it seep through your skin. The audience, with you, waits silently. Anticipation so loud it rings in your ears. But before it gets unbearable, the light, akin to a wave, washes over the expanse of the room. Art unfolds before your very eyes. In seconds, the ceiling, floor, and walls showcase a spectacular burst of dancing waves in the brightest shade of blue. 

You may or may not identify the graphics on display as The Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the most renowned Japanese art pieces, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is submitting yourself to the moment. Such artistic displays don’t depend on the interpretation of a connoisseur; cutting-edge technology ensures every visitor experiences art in all its fullness. 

Here’s a lowdown of must-visit galleries in the region that leverage the best tech to make art come to life. 

Theatre of Digital Art, Dubai, UAE

Midnight in Paris comes alive at the heart of Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, with the latest Theatre of Digital Art (T0DA). Think Cezanne, Monet, and the city’s beloved (at least on social media) Van Gogh. Exemplifying an amalgamation of tradition and modern artistry, ToDA employs three digital art formats, including multimedia exhibitions, contemporary immersive installations, and virtual reality.  European digital production house Vision Multimedia Projects is credited for conceptualizing the theater, which spans 1,800 square meters, comprising several sections – traditional and classical art exhibitions, a contemporary digital art zone, hands-on exhibits for children, and a virtual reality area. The gallery has 25 Epson projectors and an acoustic surround system to provide a fully immersive journey. 

“Our mission is to bring new experimental projects to Dubai. We brought the first NFT exhibition to Dubai called .dreams; it features seven international media artists that reflect upon an ocean of a dream. Visitors can see NFT galleries and learn about digital currencies in a hypnotic experience. We also brought the first sleep concert to Dubai and always look for the latest projects to bring to Dubai,” said Daria Prodaevich, Managing Director, ToDA. 

“Even though we are a new age gallery, we are not only about contemporary art. We showcase classical art, and I believe ToDA provides lovers of traditional art with an opportunity to learn about new art. The same goes for visitors who prefer contemporary pieces; they get to learn about Van Gogh and other icons,” she says. 

At the end of the day, “Art is an experience that touches souls. The new era of art that we are promoting provides the best of both classical and digital art.”

Infinity des Lumières, Dubai, UAE

UAE cannot get enough of Van Gogh, and Infinity des Lumières has enough on display to quench this cult-like obsession. With ample opportunity to experience hypnotic motion graphics of the most stunning Starry Night and Almond Blossoms displays, the gallery also projects works of renowned pioneers. 

Located in Dubai Mall, the most extensive immersive art gallery in the GCC has also become a popular Instagrammable location for Gen Z. The gallery’s launch marks a pivot in the region’s post-pandemic renaissance on a larger scale. With plans to feature local Arab work and steep costs associated with curating an immersive exhibition, it remains unclear how local work will see the light of day in this digital arena — yet it’s something to look forward to in 2022. 

Conceptualized by the global cultural organization, Culturespaces Digital, critically acclaimed for the “Atelier des Lumières” in Paris, Infinity des Lumières sprawls across 2,700 square meters. There’s more to what meets the eye, though. At the gallery, each multi-sensory installation runs on 130 Barco lasers, 60 speakers, 3,000 HD digital images, and digital animation, a guarantee to leave visitors dizzy at best, if not enthralled.

TeamLab Borderless Jeddah, KSA

Visitors can expect to shrink elements, jump in VR arenas and play with surroundings powered by AI at the soon-to-launch art gallery teamLab Borderless Jeddah, a first-of-its-kind multi-sensory immersive art studio. Set to open in 2023, teamLab Borderless exemplifies the kingdom’s commitment to leave no stone unturned to achieve Vision 2030. 

The project is based on a partnership between the kingdom’s Ministry of Culture and Tokyo-based teamLab specializing in immersive exhibits. In 2018, teamLab Borderless Tokyo attracted 2.3 million visitors, making it the world’s most-visited single-artist museum — surpassing the footfall of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. 

teamLab has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at venues worldwide, including New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Silicon Valley, Beijing, and Melbourne among others. teamLab Planets, a museum where you walk through water and a garden where you become one with the flowers in Toyosu, Tokyo is on view until the end of 2022.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Clare McGrath Dawson is a Senior Correspondent at Fast Company Middle East who writes on tech, design, and culture. More

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