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The Digital-Era Renaissance: Gaurav Bhatia on the Rise of Immersive Digital Art

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex-MD, now head of Maison India, aesthete and collector, talks about the world of immersive digital art.

In July 2021, the Dubai Mall presented the world with Infinity des Lumieres – a digital art center that challenges the conventional understanding and perceptions about art, and the manner in which people experience it. The mall spans over 2,700 sqm. and has been installed with 130 projectors and 58 speakers, making it the biggest digital art center in the Middle East.

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex MD, highlights the essence of Infinity des Lumieres and says, “It is a splendid display of what art stands for. The view simply overtakes your senses and lets you absorb the moment. You are not merely looking at The Starry Nights – a painting by Vincent Van Gogh – but you feel relishing those fields. With the exhaustive use of lights, sound and practical effects, the center hopes to enthrall you within the artist’s imagination.”

Infinity des Lumieres drew the world’s attention because of the unique amalgamation of art and technology. The space is transformed in its entirety, essentially bringing the virtual reality to life for the viewers.

Explaining the science behind immersive art, Ex-MD Sotheby’s Gaurav Bhatia, now head of Maison India states, “It incorporates a blend of digital projection across space, while physical effects such as waves, wind or sound effects create an augmented reality.”

With a painting or a sculpture, the frame and the background form a ‘boundary’ as it were, within which the experience is to be carried out. However, the experimental artform attempts to completely subvert this and tries to replace the conventional form of engagement vis-à-vis works of art.

Such places are coming up across the globe. A Tokyo art collective, team Lab Planets, has a special artwork titled Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity. In addition to the projection of koi fish images on the surface of water, the waves are programmed by computers to respond to the visitor’s movements and senses. There is complete exclusivity of experiences which one gets.

Understanding the popularity of this artform, many museums and art institutions across the world have begun to embrace digital art as an element of their art space.

Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s Ex-MD, cites some of the prominent places which are paving the way for such enchanting works, “The exhibitions in Serpentine Galleries in London feature the artificial intelligence and immersive technology while curating art. In Linz, Austria, Ars Electronica combines floor projections, laser tracking and 3D animation for a mesmerizing experience.”

He adds, “There are dedicated studios which are employed to produce immersive projections in public spaces. Studio Drift from Amsterdam, and Refik Anadol who has produced for Artechouse in New York, are some of the prominent names in this field.”

This upsurge in the deployment of digital exhibitions to craft immersive art is the latest innovation in how people approach and interact with it. As the rise of non-fungible token (NFTs) and Cryptocurrency is hailed to represent the age of neo-digital ownership, the world of art is undergoing its own digital renaissance.