“People don’t realise or don’t accept how interconnected we are with nature.” These are the words of Natan Sinigaglia, who collaborated with Mileece I'Anson and Marshmallow Laser Feast to create the fascinating VR experience We Live In An Ocean Of Air - now in the Saatchi Gallery, London.
Inspired by the great sequoia tree, Marshmallow Laser Feast wanted to reconnect us with nature. Filled with anticipation, we walked down the steps into a dark room with two huge screens on either side with people tentatively moving and grasping at air. The multisensory experience has already begun as soon as you walk into the room as we smell a waft of natural woody aroma - priming you for what is to come. We can hear a rainforest soundscape and already we are beginning to be immersed in this world. We soon realise that the screens are purely for those in the waiting area as the participants can only see through their VR headset...this makes us very exciting to get stuck in!
After being told a brief history of the sequoia tree, we were then fitted with our VR equipment: a backpack containing the computer, wrist sensors, a heart beat sensor clipped to your ear and the headset - VR goggles, headphones and a breath sensor. And in we went!!
What an incredible experience. We Live in an Ocean of Air really took me on a journey with the tree, totally immersed within the world - it felt like being in Avatar! Don't worry, you won't bump into anyone as you can see them as glowing red balls of energy. Blowing out breath created a wonderful cloud of blue that you can push around with your hands. Slowly walking forwards, you can actually walk towards and INSIDE of the sequoia tree, feeling totally connected. As you swish your hands, the tree reacts and you help it grow with every movement. The environment becomes more and more abstract and soon everything is just energy swishing around with you. You start to feel the bright, vibrant colours start to fade and the beautiful tree begins to flake and grey - I actually felt really sad! Soon, you were back to reality and guided to take off the headset. Feeling totally amazed, everyone in the group began excitedly speaking to each other about what we had just experienced.
I would 100% recommend visiting. We Live in an Ocean of Air was powerful, beautiful and emotional.
The exhibition is still on until May 5th so book now !!https://www.saatchigallery.com/art/salon_009.php
What else was on at the Saatchi Gallery?
A review of Jean-François Boclé’s Everything Must Go (2014)
We stumbled across Jean-François Boclé’sEverything Must Go(2014), which consisted of 97,000 new blue plastic bags which, is supposedly centred around sustainability and the environment, flanked by photographs by Kadir van Lohuizen of the melting Arctic region. The original meaning behind this work, a ‘quasi-memorial to lives lost at sea during the transatlantic slave trade’, seems overshadowed by the current sustainability hype. If this piece was created as a comment on the current state of the planet, personally I find it a total contradiction with no apparent consideration as to where the 97,000 single-use polyethylene plastic bags were manufactured and where will they go when this work has finished exhibiting?
Context is everything, and considering Boclé’s piece is a site-specific installation with no mention of climate change in any descriptions, perhaps it is Saatchi’s direct comparison with the environmentally charged photographs that actually changes the whole meaning and viewers reception of the piece, detracting from the powerful original message. By alluding to an environmental motive, Everything Must Go appears contradictory and confusing. If it were a piece intended to be in the same room as van Louizen’s photographs, it might have been more powerful to have collected plastic from the Atlantic oceans and displayed the real evidence of human impact on the icebergs rather than adding fuel to the flame.
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