The integration of digital technology with interactive art is transforming traditional galleries around the world into immersive, multi-sensory worlds that redefine the relationship between art, artist and audience.
Although conventional art like sculpture and painting still account for a large portion of artistic work, the digital-interactive art medium breaks new ground by inviting audiences to participate in the creation and appreciation of art – both online and within physical spaces.
Simply put, interactive art involves the observer in its creative process. It relies on the active participation of the audience to be ‘seen’ and experienced. This means the artwork is never truly finished by the artist – rather, its meaning is constantly negotiated and re-negotiated by those who engage with it.
Interactive art dates back to at least the early 1900s, however computers and digital technologies have made it possible for modern-day artists to create and curate their art in entirely new ways – whether it be via virtual reality art galleries or as part of large-scale digital art projections.
From the enchanting visuals of Monet and Friends in Sydney, to the magical Field of Light installation in the Central Australian desert – we look at 10 of the most engaging interactive art exhibitions and events you can see in Australia this year.
Lumen at the White Rabbit Gallery
In a spectacular celebration of light, Lumen gives you a chance to “traverse harsh fluorescents, digital realties and literal cracks of lightning to uncover the invisible architecture that shapes our world.” The exhibition features 40 works by artists from China and Taiwan, including Wei Wei’s Mood Machine (an artistic expression of interactive audio-visual electric sparks), Yao Chung-Han’s DzDz (a musical instrument that produces sound by combining light and body movement) and Xu Zhongmin’s Egg Shape 2 (a huge stainless-steel egg that combines architecture, video art and robotics).
When: Until 1 August 2021
Where: White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney, NSW
Field of Light at the Ayers Rock Resort
In 2016, internationally acclaimed British artist Bruce Munro brought his dazzling Field of Light display to the red desert sands of Central Australia, covering the size of approximately nine football fields. Since then, the stunning display, which is made up of 50,000 glass orbs elevated on handcrafted stems, has found a permanent home at the base of Uluru. The local Pitjantjatjara people call the installation ‘Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku,’ which translates to ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ – an accurate description of the activity at hand.
Where: Ayers Rock Resort, NT
Paradise on Earth at the Museum of Sydney
Paradise on Earth explores and celebrates the work and legacy of Marion Mahony Griffin, an American artist and architect who lived in the 19th-20th centuries. The exhibition explores Mahony’s early career, her collaboration with Walter Burley Griffin (who was also her husband) and the major architectural projects she worked on in Australia, including Melbourne’s Capitol Theatre and the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. Mahony’s fascination with the built world and her deep respect for the natural one are a timeless inspiration for all.
When: Until 18 April 2021
Where: The Museum of Sydney, NSW
Monet and Friends – Life, Light & Colour at the Royal Hall of Industries
The creators of the ultra-successful Van Gogh Alive reimagine the art of Claude Monet and the top Impressionist painters in this new multi-sensory experience. Expect to be immersed in the rich colours, sights and sounds of 19th century Europe as the works of Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne and Degas are brought to life around you by 40 projectors and massive screens. So instead of self-isolating at home, why not take a socially-distanced stroll through a real-life rendering of Monet’s Water Lily Pond or Pissarro’s French countryside?
When: Until 2 May 2021
Where: The Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney, NSW
Solid Gold: Artists from Paradise at HOTA Gallery
Opening in May, the Solid Gold exhibition at HOTA Gallery will feature a captivating range of artworks that celebrate the diversity, richness and beauty of the Gold Coast. A cohort of established and upcoming artists use textiles, ceramics, painting, photography, video and installation to examine the strained human-nature relationship and, in doing so, implore us to consider other, more harmonious ways of living.
When: 8 May-4 July 2021
Where: HOTA Gallery, Gold Coast, QLD
Imaginaria at the District Docklands
Imaginaria is a captivating, walk-through world that exists at the intersection of imagination and technology. The exhibition draws inspiration from international trends in the virtual and augmented reality space that, according to Creative Director Nick Ennis, “are often reflections of our deeper needs, desires or values.” The creators invite you to enter into luminous landscapes filled with light sculptures, multi-dimensional mazes, and architectural inflatables. There’s even a black hole simulator!
When: Until 23 May 2021
Where: The District Docklands, Melbourne, VIC
Sunny Side Up at Brisbane’s Outdoor Gallery
Brisbane’s Outdoor Gallery transforms the city’s streets and laneways into a living art gallery with light boxes, banners, vitrines, and evening projections. As part of the council initiative, Sunny Side Up features a collection of vibrant artworks that celebrate Brisbane’s subtropical identity, distinct landscapes and cultural atmosphere. There are also talks, tours, and even augmented reality – all of which collectively celebrate the optimism, abundance, and playful spirit of the Sunshine State.
When: Until 18 April 2021
Whre: Brisbane City Council’s Outdoor Gallery, QLD
THE LUME at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
THE LUME is an up-and-coming digital art hub in the heart of Melbourne that will be dedicated to delivering immersive sensory experiences through a range of digital exhibits and displays. The gallery, which is sprawled out across 3,000 square metres and hosts 150 projectors, will feature the work of some of the world’s most renowned artists, starting with Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. Visitors will be transported to the Netherlands, Paris and other French cities where they can walk among paintings like Starry Night while listening to classical music and absorbing evocative scents.
When: Opens August 2021
Where: The Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre, VIC
For over a decade, Vivid has delighted revellers with its annual display of lights, music and ideas. The festival, which has contributed to Sydney’s status as a major creative hub in the Asia Pacific region, attracts millions of visitors each year with its dazzling display of live performances, creative conferences, talks, and workshops. After taking a pandemic-induced hiatus last year, Vivid is making its long-awaited return in August 2021.
When: 6-28 August 2021
Where: Sydney, NSW
Illuminate Adelaide is a new annual winter event that will light up Adelaide’s streets with over 150 tech-driven installations, performances and events over 17 days. Whether you want to see giant panda projections rolling around on the lawns of Adelaide Zoo or follow a night-time light trail of over 40 installations across the city’s precincts, this festival of tech, innovation and art is sure to delight.
When: 16 July-1 August 2021
Where: Adelaide, SA