The Theater of Digital Art’s new Dubai exhibition is a must for metaverse fans

Dubai’s Souk Madinat Jumeirah Digital Art Theater aims to welcome the future with its new Digital Extravaganza exhibition.

The show, which runs until August 31, invites audiences to become travelers on a near-psychedelic journey through the senses, moving from Earth to the metaverse in a “new media wonderland.”

Digital Extravaganza showcases multiple perspectives and forms of digital art, including virtual reality, augmented reality, metareality, AI, and video.

Works by six artists make up the main visual spectacle, which audiences can enjoy from the comfort of the theater’s beanbags and cushions.

Arhead created the Exhibition Gallery in the Metaverse.  Photo: <a class=Digital Art Theater” src=”https://thenational-the-national-prod.cdn.arcpublishing.com/resizer/s1e6SUJXvE76xUsUGUEeAixAzas=/1440×0/filters:format(jpg):quality(70)/cloudfront-eu-central-1.images.arcpublishing.com/thenational/ILDZE3FREFAETLDVCQKSB5J5SE.JPG” width=”1440″ height=”0″ loading=”lazy”/>

Embodied in immersive displays across three screens, the six short, film-like works are presented by Synti, a 3D holographic figure connected to a linguistic bot – a young female robot figure – the first digital model of the theater and the first visualization of artificial intelligence.

Synti discusses the artwork with the audience and acts as a kind of host from another plane or another planet.

A notable work is that of American visual artist Jonathan Monaghan out of the abyss.

A huge, oversaturated beach, reminiscent of Dubai’s JBR Beach, serves as the backdrop for candy-colored satirical surrealism, cynically but playfully pointing to an uncertain, apocalyptic future.

Think horses in perpetual motion, clad in gas masks and Beats by Dre headphones, ridden by muscular “knights” similarly dressed in shiny purple and gold armor; the colors of royalty.

These figures carry an unusual mix of items: a yoga mat, a selfie stick, a bag of organic groceries, a Macbook – every marker and icon of so-called conscious consumerism.

On the central screen, we see a curious building, white and forbidding, even parliamentary, crowned with a heap of surveillance cameras and credit card machines.

Other symbols allude to capitalist critique: stock market numbers, Steve Jobs’ speech, more yoga mats, gilded gold and fine art ultimately leading to the deepest part of the structure, its heart: a generic and homogeneous salad aisle of a supermarket.

In different places, the building takes wings and becomes animal, creating a tension between the natural and the artificial.

Have artificial power and materialism become our new natural, even primal state?

out of the abyss is the most overtly ‘vocal’ work of the lot and offers an ironic experience just minutes from places like the Burj Al Arab and the glittering glass-fronted offerings of Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Other artwork feels more abstract and aesthetically-focused, while carrying more subtle, often climate-focused messages.

by Luna Ikuta Life after death brings ghostly botanical arrangements to life from film and digital archives; by Kevin Mack Anandala, an official selection of the Red Sea International Film Festival and the 78th Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia, creates a virtual world populated by Blorts, color and texture changing forms that act like living creatures.

Russian artist Daniil Zuev, known as Darkzuu, presents A special world: a friendly futuree, a series based on drawings by children with developmental difficulties who visit the Yom-Yom Inclusive Center in St. Petersburg, where he animates their sketches into figures on a journey through fantastical and natural environments.

Russian artist Darkzuu presents 'A special world: a friendly future'.  Photo: Digital Art Theater

Meanwhile, French digital sculptor Arnaud Laffond Shelter/Refusal reflects on how we process information through warm, slick, stylized scarlet visuals and floating “talking heads.”

Finally, the international artistic group Synticate, strongly involved in the exploration of eco-futurism, presents Ayraan abstract dive into the solarpunk movement.

The international art group Synticate is heavily involved in exploring eco-futurism.  Photo: Digital Art Theater

Synti concludes the show by declaring cryptically, “See you later.”

We are then launched into a short preview of contemporary art projects newly created in NFT and turned into 3D assets for the Theater of Digital Art’s Metaverse, each selected via an open call.

A total of 238 apps from 43 countries were narrowed down to the top 10, which were displayed with their QR codes so viewers could access more information on how to collect them. Some of the projects have also been prepared for AR.

While much of the deeper resonances and significance of this kind of digital artistic innovation would be lost on less tech-savvy adults, one can imagine them flying completely over children’s heads.

Still, the show is a visual delight for youngsters, exposing them to new frontiers of how progressive technology can be used and manipulated to produce creative narratives, or simply, fun new worlds.

Visitors at ToDa's Digital Extravaganza exhibition.  Photo: Digital Art Theater

Digital Extravaganza’s immersive features can make kids feel like they’re embodying the craziest and most surreal parts of their own fantasies and imaginations.

This was evident by the many fascinated and transfixed children at the opening of the show, their necks stretched and swiveling towards the screens, as if to drink intensely the changing sounds and colors like a milkshake.

Digital art and metaverse explorations, which include the increasing saturation of NFTs in the art market, are on the rise in Dubai, as evidenced by the introduction of a digital section at Dubai’s largest art fair. emirate art, Art Dubai.

A long-running event like Digital Extravaganza fits right in with an upward trend and offers art, crypto, tech, and NFT enthusiasts, as well as ordinary families, a one-night adventure.

Digital Extravaganza runs through August 31 at the Theater of Digital Art. Tickets are priced at 50 Dh for children up to 12 years old and 100 Dh for 13 years and over. More information is available at toda.ae

Updated: June 13, 2022, 12:55 p.m.

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