Part of the vOilah! Festival, Fantasium is proud to be among the broad lineup that blends French and Singaporean communities. Through multi-sensory experiences and interactive activities, almost 600 visitors traveled back in time and immersed themselves in the magical world created by old masters.
A Virtual Voyage through Masterpieces was a cultural programme held in Gardens by the Bay from 24 October to 8 November 2020. It attracted people from Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, US, UK and others. With 60 hourly VR exhibition session, 12 creative workshops, 3 online chats with French renowned film directors and producers, the event offered numerous opportunities for all attendees to appreciate the French masterpieces through immersive technology.
The VR art exhibition
Multi-sensory virtual experiences whisked visitors through time to step inside the Edouard Manet's painting for a tete-a-tete with a barmaid in the cabaret of Paris 'Folies Bergere', to delight Monet's iconic water lilies, to delve into the forgotten culture of Tahiti and Paul Gauguin's imagination, to test your courage at the Isle of Dead, Arnold Bocklin's mysterious work that inspired Dali and Scorsese.
Nina Boldyreva, programme curator, said. “It is a great honour to be invited for the second time by the French Embassy to demonstrate how immersive technologies can provide a unique experience. Think about it for a moment: for centuries we have experienced art remotely playing out scenes from a book, or looking at paintings on museum walls, or watching movies on a screen. Although we appreciate them, we do not actually experience them. Now, with real immersion, we are able to become the art, to become a part of creation”.
For A bar at Folies Bergère by Edouard Manet, visitors were so intrigued as they tried grabbing the bottles or fruits on the table. A 6 year old girl was so immersed that she was waltzing around during the VR experience. For Claude Monet’s The Water Lily Obsession, the director uses water flowing into Musée de l'Orangerie and many were indulged in both the soothing music and visual presentation.
Paul Gauguin’s Inner journey in Tahiti was a great hit for visitors who were as passionate in using bright colours; The Isle of the Dead was the most immersive VR film and favourite one amongst both adults and children. The latter would tend to clutch on to the staff to seek comfort from fear.
Some of the feedback gathered at the VR Exhibition were as follows:
Finally, able to ‘travel’ again.
Prompts one to find out more about the actual art work and it’s a good way to introduce art to people.
Fantastic, very innovative and informative.
Good explanation of why the bar in the Folies Bergère was so controversial at that time.
It was fun, felt like you were in the world of the paintings.
It’s educational, as you’re being taken into the time period when the paintings were made.
Creative Workshops on Monet and Gauguin
All participants were very enthusiastic and enjoyed their first room-scale canvases using their virtual brushes to bring French art style to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay: for instance, decorate the Super Trees with Monet’s water lilies and the Cloud Forest Waterfall in Gauguin’s colourful style. The participants range from 8 years old to 67 years old. Coincidentally, both the youngest and oldest participants were prize winners for creating the top 5 VR art pieces.
The online sessions with directors and producers from France were packed with intriguing insights on the films and questions from the audience. Hosted by Deda Daniels, a senior lecturer at the School of Interactive and Digital Media at Nanyang Polytechnic, who was effectively bilingual in English and French, she was able to keep the momentum and inject humour.
Igal Kohen: A bar at Folies Bergère
Igal explained that the film put the viewer in the eyes of four characters, the painter, the client, Suzon and the viewer of the painting in the gallery and how the world unpainted itself when the strokes become blurry conveying the melancholia of Suzon in contrast to what Manet and the client thinks of her. Hence, encapsulating the question of ‘What is Suzon thinking about?’
Benjamin Nuel: The Isle of the Dead
As the whole production of ‘Isle of the dead’ was animated, there was no motion capture at all. Benjamin felt that Bocklin’s work would be very well suited for VR as it was more sensory than intellectual and he focused on the question of ‘What was the mystery of the island’? The film was in the context of a trip and the script like a dreamscape and he particularly likes the idea of art must be surprising and unpredictable and he does the art and films this way.
Nicolas Thepot: The Water Lilies Obsession
Nicolas said ‘Curiosity drives him to embark on creative projects’. He ensured that everything seen in the film including the brushstrokes and the colours were from Monet’s paintings. He mentioned taking thousands of pictures and put them into layers to have a 3D version of the painting.
Check out the post-event video trailer. Voilah!