Purists might argue that combining classic art with modern technology is disgraceful. But when it is executed well, it can be a truly beautiful experience. I recently had the opportunity to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Atelier des Lumieres in Paris, France. The Atelier des Lumieres is a 19th century 3000 m2 factory that has been converted into a digital arts center in 2018. Starting in February of this year they featured “Van Gogh, The Starry Night”. The exhibit is a creation by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto, and Massimiliano Siccardi – with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi.
Van Gogh, The Starry Night is a look into the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh. The exhibit includes a video that is projected onto all of the walls, floors, and columns of the two-story space displaying his art from different phases of his life, along with original music composition distributed in stereo throughout the space. There are over 128 video projectors mounted to trusses above in varying orientations to create this fully immersive experience. Using projection mapping and edge-blending technology, the video can be shaped to wrap around columns and fit seamlessly on oddly shaped surfaces. Projection mapping is done using software that enables a standard projector to project a non-flat image onto an object of any 3D shape. Edge-blending software combines multiple projected images into a single, seamless image. Combing these technologies enabled the images to seamlessly cover every surface in the multistory space.
While walking around, I even found small oddly shaped rooms you can enter that also have the projected video covering the surfaces and a small pond below the floor that has projected fish swimming in it. As his art morphs from one piece to the other, the music serves the mood of the video perfectly. To complement the video, there are approximately 50 loudspeakers distributed throughout playing beautiful compositions in stereo. The stereo imaging shifts as you walk around, but you are so immersed in the video that you won’t notice unless you’re an AV guy like me.
I could have spent hours completely surrounded by these classic paintings watching them morph into each other. The works in the exhibit included, The Potato Eaters (1885) Sunflowers (1888), Irises (1889), many self-portraits, and of course The Starry Night, and many more. Atelier des Lumieres “Van Gogh, The Starry Night” is an impressive marriage of classic art and modern technology.