Immersive showcases are all the rage these days. Evident across all forms of art — be it paintings, photography, theater or fashion — the eruption of full, sensorial forms of storytelling or presentation, one that stimulates all the senses, have become the defining ingredient to all successful public displays. In recent years, these experiences have also become increasingly synonymous with digital. While social media-friendliness undoubtedly plays a key role in the trend, a huge part of the popularity of immersive experiences comes down to its interactiveness, and its ability to expand the viewer’s field of vision, appealing to senses other than our sight. As these experiences become more common, they are disrupting how the public engages with the arts and blurring the line between what is art and pure entertainment.
This fall, one of South Korea’s largest immersive media art exhibitions has made its way to Hong Kong as a preview of its first overseas branch.
Founded by d’strict, a leading Korean commercial design company famous for its site-specific media art installations, Arte Museum is an immersive, art and technology-focused exhibition space currently located in different cities in Korea. Its first location, which opened in September 2020, takes over a renovated former speaker factory in Jeju Island. The museum then added two more locations in the cities of Yeosu and Gangneung in 2021, and, following the easing of travel restrictions around the globe, has plans to expand internationally with locations in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Las Vegas, New York, and LA.
Its Hong Kong iteration, which opened to the public on October 7, is a curated version of its flagship exhibition in Korea. Titled “Arte M”, the temporary exhibition offers a sample of its upcoming, permanent location at 11 SKIES, the K11-operated cultural-retail complex adjacent to Hong Kong International Airport that is scheduled to open in early 2024.
According to d’strict, the digital media exhibition is set to take over a 28,040 square-feet multi-purpose site at the complex, and will be renamed Arte Museum Hong Kong. As with its Korean locations, which take cues from each region's natural environment and cultural heritage, the curatorial premise of the future exhibition at Arte Museum Hong Kong will also be inspired by the local heritage of Hong Kong.
Running for 15 months, “Arte M” takes place at K11 HACC, an exhibition space in Hong Kong’s eastern district. Anchored by the theme “Eternal Nature”, the showcase brings together six digital media works presented across four separated spaces, each offering a multi-sensorial reinterpretation of elements found in nature. Upon entering the dimly-lit labyrinth of rooms and mirrors, visitors will find themselves engulfed in a psychedelic journey that involves outbursts of flora and fauna, exotic tropical rainforests, swells of crashing waves and captivating swirls of the Northern Lights. It is the ultimate awe-inspiring ‘Alice in Wonderland’ experience that combines visual intensity, vibrant sounds, and elegant ambience.
Artazine recently spoke with Sean Lee, CEO of d’strict, who opened up about the creative process behind “Arte M”, why nature has remained a consistent inspiration in d’strict’s creative portfolio, and gave his two cents on the growing relationship between technology and art.
Artazine: As the world’s first iteration of Arte Museum outside of South Korea, how is the show in Hong Kong different from its Jeju Island location?
Lee: We have chosen the heart of Hong Kong for the special temporary exhibition, which is easily accessible to busy Hongkongers. We believe the location truly reflects the local sensibilities of Hong Kong, a metropolis with its bustling commercial districts.
“Arte M” is the first leg of the Hong Kong project and will be presented as a temporary showcase for approximately 15 months. The exhibition is expected to relocate to 11SKIES, where the public can expect more artworks in a larger, permanent exhibition space; it will also be equipped with a unique F&B facility. Think of Arte M as a pre-show, a glimpse into what we plan for the future. We’ve selected the best and most famous works to reach Hong Kong audiences before Arte Museum Hong Kong eventually opens its doors.
A: Nature has always been a consistent subject of your creations. Is there a reason behind this?
L: We’ve been working for a long time to create work that would entertain the public, even for those with no artistic expertise. Although we often think that the digital world and nature are opposites, they share something in common: eternity. That’s why we wanted to bring the subject of nature into our digital artwork, to create an interaction between the art and the audience, and to provide comfort and peace through our art.
Arte Museum presents intuitive works that allow sufficient appreciation and experience without an in-depth understanding of technology. Its central theme is nature which also appeals to a broad audience.
A: Do the works created by d’strict take reference from famous artists or significant periods of art history?
L: Rather than giving my personal opinion as CEO I’d like to answer this question about artistic inspiration by thinking from our creators point of view. Inspiration can come as easily as an apple accidentally falling on Newton. But for the most part, our creators tend to work alongside other creators for ideas. And this process can be unpredictable, confusing and stressful. For this to work smoothly, it’s important to see, feel, and remember as much as possible. Brilliant ideas can come from a variety of places, and this attitude can lead to finding ideas you might have missed. In summary, I believe that the source of artistic inspiration for d’strict’s creators comes from “experience”.
A: In your opinion, how does technology change the way people view or interact with art?
L: Traditional art comes from the way of thinking or expression of individual artists. But when technology meets art, the most important factor is the experience, not the artist himself. We will leave that media technology can help bring art to more people. And we felt that a key strength of digital art is that it allows people to design or encounter very affordable and engaging user experiences. Whereas the traditional realm of art tends to focus on the artist's philosophy, we try to focus on the experience of joy through art. That’s how we approach the convergence of art and technology.
If the digital world is the realm of reason, art is the realm of emotion. And the fusion of the two is essential to provide the best of both worlds simultaneously. This convergence is something we have been working on for a long time — how to converge reason in response to technology, and sensibility in response to art, to keep pace with trends and maximize the visual experience. As a result, through utilizing various technical tools, we work hard to create multidimensional, multi-sensory outcomes, rather than two dimensional limiting simulations of the senses.
"Arte M" immersive media art exhibition
October 7, 2022 – Jan 2023
2/F, K11 Atelier King's Road
Quarry Bay, Hong Kong