Immersive Art: Exploring the Appeal of Interactive Exhibitions

Explore the elements of Immersive Art Exhibitions that audiences find appealing and why they are being criticised by art critics. Find out more about David Hockney's new show at Lightroom.

Immersive Art: Exploring the Appeal of Interactive Exhibitions
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Image: David Hockney, A Bigger Grand Canyon, Courtesy of Lightroom
Immersive art exhibitions are a growing trend in the world of entertainment. From giant mirrored rooms to interactive light displays, they offer an escape from reality and an opportunity to fully immerse oneself in a new world and engage with artworks.
David Hockney's latest exhibition at Lightroom (London) provides the perfect opportunity to explore why audiences are drawn to these immersive art experiences, despite the art world's lukewarm reception. In this blog post, we'll examine the elements that make these tech-centric, projection-based shows so appealing, and why they seem to be popping up everywhere.

More about the show

Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away), David Hockney's show at Lightroom, a new venue in London’s Kings Cross, is a stunning display of the artist's continued experimentation with digital media. Hockney's voice guides the viewers throughout the show, where his paintings are beamed at a huge scale. Some of them stretch from the walls to the floor's venue, while others are deconstructed to showcase the artist's creative process. Spanning his six-decade career, around 250 works are featured, from the most well known, like A Bigger Splash and A Bigger Grand Canyon, to the ones that have been drawn especially for the occasion, with Hockney's mastery of the iPad as a creative tool. These vibrant and expansive iPad drawings blend traditional artistic techniques with the unique capabilities of digital media. The images are vivid and lively, and they capture the beauty and energy of the natural world in a way that is both familiar and transformative. Overall, this new show showcase of one of the world's greatest living artists and a testament to the power of creativity and innovation.
Video preview
Adults from £25 Students & Under 18s from £15 Under 5s go free
Tickets can be purchased here.
Duration One complete loop lasts approximately 50 mins. You are welcome to stay for longer.
📍 At Lightroom, 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, London, February 22–June 4, 2023.

A divided critique

The art critique is divided when it comes to reviewing this show. While some hail it as a triumph, others criticise it for being predictable and lacking in artistic experimentation. Although the use of technology for the landscape paintings, created with Hockney's signature iPad style, is undoubtedly impressive, some critics argue that the artist seems to be resting on his laurels rather than pushing boundaries.
This kind of immersive multi-sensory "experience" is generally devoted to deceased heroes like Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Salvador Dali, or Frida Kahlo, and has become very popular with audiences, but is usually derided by art specialists. However, the difference this time is that the show is brought by a living artist who was personally and actively involved in the production. While this makes the show more personal, it doesn't necessarily translate into an effective digital art show.
Despite criticisms, many art critics have praised the exhibition for its beauty and technical skill. Hockney's use of color and light remains impressive even in digital forms, and his ability to capture the essence of a place is undeniable. For many, the exhibition is a celebration of nature and offers a much-needed respite from the chaos and uncertainty of the world today.
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View of David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)’ at Lightroom

Find more press on the show


About immersive art exhibitions

Immersive art exhibitions have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering visitors a unique and interactive experience. They incorporate technology and multi-sensory elements to create an environment that fully engages the viewer. By immersing themselves in these installations, visitors are offered an opportunity to escape from their daily routines and engage with their creativity and imagination, while gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the pieces on display.
These shows are designed to appeal to a wider range of spectators, including children, because they often incorporate playful and accessible elements. They are typically created with the goal of engaging viewers in a way that traditional contemporary art exhibits may not. In fact, they are not always well-received by professionals within the contemporary art world, who prefer to value conceptual and abstract elements that challenge the viewer's perception and understanding, rather than facilitating them. Despite the art world’s reluctance towards these exhibitions and the questioning of their artistic value, it is fair to say that their value and success lies in their ability to connect with a broader audience and their contribution to the experimentation and innovation of new forms of art.
A new and essential aspect of immersive art exhibitions is the use of ticket booking software, as it helps organisers manage visitors' flow with time slot bookings and create a more personalised experience when they book. Visitors appreciate the certainty of being able to book and choose from available time slots, as it saves them time at the entrance and avoids the risk of being stuck in a queue. Additionally, booking ahead can provide helpful information to the visitor, such as opening hours, visitor information, and directions, as well as saving wasted journeys.
The booking experience has become a part of the immersive art experience itself, with some exhibitions using digital platforms to enhance the pre-visit and post-visit experience. Visitors can book tickets online, access additional information and interactive features, and share their experience on social media. This creates a more personalised and engaging experience for visitors and can also help to increase the visibility and popularity of the exhibition.

Other examples of immersive art

  • TeamLab, a Japanese art collective of six hundred “ultratechnologists”—artists, software engineers, animators, and architects. Their interactive landscapes promise a wondrous ecosystem of lush imagery drawn from nature and East Asian art.
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Photo:teamLab《Floating Flower Garden; Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One》Toyosu《teamLab Planets TOKYO》©teamLab

Written by

Rosita Mariella
Rosita Mariella

Rosita is an art historian and researcher based in Madrid. She’s been working in the art market since 2015, for galleries and collections based in London, until she joined ARTSVP in 2021.