April 28, 2018

NGV Triennial: An immersive experience


Contributed by Gianna Blundo.

Modern art nowadays has shifted into a multitude of new realms. People want to connect and interact as it’s in our nature to do so, and therefore, today’s artwork is being portrayed in ways more than just using paint, photography and sculptures. There are games, films, movement and more. Artists are putting the play back into display and I witnessed this first hand in April 2017 at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Triennial exhibition in Melbourne.

“Interactive exhibits have a way of creating stronger connections and making a greater impact.“

Over the last four months the NGV featured the work of over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries over 4 floors. It was a free exhibition aimed at celebrating contemporary art and design practice. The NGV Triennial exhibit included architecture, animation, virtual reality, film, paintings, drawings and other art forms.

The first floor housed my favourite artist of the exhibit, Yayoi Kusama, and her immersive installation, Flower obsession. All attendees were invited to partake in building this piece, and given a red flower sticker and asked to glue it anywhere within the location. The first image was taken at the beginning, the second image is what it looked like when I attended. The element that made me appreciate the exhibition for more than just its beauty, was how easily understandable it was and how amazing it felt to be a part of its creation.

Image: NGV

Another Japanese artist, teamLab, created a visual vortex that formed interactions with whoever stepped into it.  We missed the informative block on the artwork before entering so we got a friendly surprise, noticing the vortex responding to a child running and jumping around the room. ‘Moving creates vortices and cortices create movement’, 2017, was accessible to visitors of varying ages and development, with both adults and children intrigued to make the vortex connect with their movements. We spent a lot of time in this space.

ngv_triennial_ideapro_immersive_experienceImage: NGV

Another innovative interactive exhibit came from an Austrian artist, Alexandra Kehayoglou. Employing carpet-like materials she built the piece, Santa Cruz River, 2016-17, that was spread across the floor and then crept up a wall, with a mirrored ceiling. All visitors are encouraged to lay on the carpet to visualise the landscape from a bird’s eye view.  Kehayoglou utilised detailed site analysis, drone footage and photography to develop her piece whilst using hand-tufted wool rugs to create the landscape itself.

This particular display is how I discovered that this exhibit even existed! Many of my friends posted images on social media and I asked ‘Where is that? I need to go!’. Interactive exhibits, especially the ones you can capture using your phone camera, gain a lot of free advertising and exposure. If it wasn’t for seeing this on social media, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity and privilege to appreciate Kehayoglou’s artwork in real life.


Image: NGV

The fourth and final floor shared Australia’s Tom Crago’s combination of virtual reality systems with art and design. This was by far the most interesting exhibit, as virtual reality is usually only found within a games store or technology expo, however seeing it at the NGV was a real hit.

Picture this – you are seated alone with your own headset and controllers to enter a deserted ship to find the artist, Viv Miller’s glowing geometric work of art. The display, Materials, explores the potential of games and how artwork can be portrayed through them. The interaction level of this exhibit was at an all-time high compared to other installations, and although I was only in it for 5-10 minutes, it was the most memorable.

ngv_triennial_ideapro_immersive_experienceImage: NGV

Interactive exhibits have a way of creating stronger connections whilst making a greater impact, and the “NGV Triennial” was an excellent example of this.

My appreciation of artwork has continued to evolve over time, and this exhibition was the most pivotal for me. During my years of visiting galleries, exhibits and shows, this was by far the most outstanding.

“In the past, art was admired and revered from afar. Today, there is more of an interactive relationship between the art and the person who admires it.” Issey Miyake

Did you get along to see the NGV Triennial? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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