WHEN DIGITAL ART BECOMES AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

The current development of art moves along paths increasingly connected with technology and digital language. Although in the beginning, the virtual works had been to a certain extent unconsidered, because they seem to play down the importance of the authors who execute their pieces with their own hands; these forms of expression have followed a constant evolution to position themselves in their place, where they deserve the same respect and admiration as traditional disciplines.

teamLab, “Black Waves: Lost, Immersed and Reborn”, 2019. Digital Installation, Continuous Loop, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi. ©teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery.

One of the main differences offered by digital works is their ability to create parallel realities in an immersive way. Their power transcends mere evocation since they overcome the mind of the spectator, who does not have to imagine the things suggested to him, but he is involved in them actively and directly. The connection of these pieces with the moving image is understood today as a natural outlet... because the movement is precisely what the traditional branches of art cannot capture.

In this path, the work of teamLab, an artistic collective composed of numerous professionals from different specialities, who unite their energy and knowledge to create impressive digital immersive pieces, is deployed. Their own work system is based on the philosophy they want to convey in their works. It is about pooling the effort of all, seeking complementarity and joint action, giving rise to artworks that flow, that explore for themselves a balance in the elements, a harmony in the exteriorisation of an idea as simple as complex.

teamLab, “Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders, Ephemeral Life born in Au-delà des limites”, 2018, installation in La Villette, Paris. © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery.

This group, founded in Tokyo in 2001, prefers to reinforce the collective work and reject the traditional concept of authorship in the art to focus its efforts on the production of works. Its pieces have already been exhibited in numerous capitals of the world and are part of important collections.

While searching for putting together nature, technology, science and art, teamLab's work explores the possibilities of digital recreation of natural elements taken on a large scale to involve the viewer in an experience that transcends and brings it to another place. Its digital creations are often interactive and change in a constant cyclic movement that evolves according to the elements that appear in the scene. The result is an artistic-digital experience that reacts to the visitor, in a non-verbal dialogue that invites us to reflect on our environmental impact, the interaction with living beings and the need to feel a vital connection with nature.

teamLab, “Enso - Cold Light”, 2018, Digital Installation, Continuous Loop. ©teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery.

The Espacio Fundación Telefónica exhibits three works of this collective to offer an unforgettable experience to the visitor. "Black Waves: Lost, Immersed and Reborn", "Flutter of Butterflies, Born from Hands" and "Enso - Cold Light" unfold on the walls of the showing-room to wrap, in a dark atmosphere with quiet music, the fascinated gaze of the spectator. Everything changes in the constant oscillation of the water and the waves of a rough, but peaceful sea.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.