What is art?
I know what you’re thinking: “Why is she using such an unoriginal question to start her article for an art magazine?”
Now if I told you right off the bat that this was my first article for NRM, you could be thinking this instead: “Why is she using such an unoriginal question to start her first article for an art magazine?”
Allow me to defend my case. The question, for me, isn’t at all unoriginal, per se. I think anyone, at any time in the world’s shelf-life can ask it simply because to this day, it hasn’t been truly answered. Sure, there have been attempts to put a definite dictionary meaning to the word art, but nothing that has yet to appease everyone. I most definitely am not trying to take the most-coveted honor for myself, I’m simply hoping to upturn another rock on the path towards giving art a clear-cut characterization, if it ever is possible.
Well, here goes nothing.
From the last days of October to the first week of December this year, the world’s most visited multi-sensory exhibit has once again set camp at the Far East. Filipino art enthusiasts were graced with the opportunity to see glimpses of the genius Vincent van Gogh’s life through his art, in a surrealistically contemporary way. The NRM team was fortunate enough to get tickets to see its Manila installation shortly before they were sold out. Grande Exhibitions’ Van Gogh Alive: the experience is billed as an “unforgettable multimedia experience,” and it does, in fact, hold true. But how? Let me tell you.
The exhibition’s promoter invites us to “discover Vincent van Gogh’s art and life like never before.” It is, in all aspects of the word, modern, in that it is timely, futuristic, and technical. It makes use of SENSORY4, a system created and developed by Grande Exhibitions, which combines technology and the natural human senses to create a dreamlike immersive world that captivates people of varying generations and interests. In an interview I had with Grande Exhibitions, they described the system as a combination of motion graphics, surround sound, and the use of projection.
The exhibition’s arrangement may vary in the different locations it’s in. Just outside the primary demonstration area at the Mind Museum in Manila, what greeted us was a mini-gallery of some of Van Gogh’s works, along with brief descriptions of the pieces themselves, or about the time of his life when they were created. It also featured a life-sized physical replica of Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, complete with furniture shaped and colored as they are in the painting. People were allowed to interact with the elements and take pictures to create the gushy illusion of being in one of the places the artist was, and induce a comforting feeling of intimacy.
Inside the main chamber, exhibit-goers were taken through Van Gogh’s artistic journey with the use of vivid imagery straight out of the esteemed artist’s repertoire. The accompanying classical music was soothing, and each track was well-matched and perfectly-timed with whatever painting was projected on the walls. Taking of pictures and videos wasn’t prohibited, as long as they didn’t disrupt the experience of others. When we were there, I almost forgot I had to take photos for this piece—I somehow learned to live in the moment again.
But what does all this have to do with this article’s main point? Well, it turns out that NRM bears some similarities to Grande Exhibitions’ purpose in doing what they do.
Grande Exhibitions, creator and designer of some of the world’s most successful exhibitions, has been in the game for more than a decade.