Imagine Van Gogh: Technology, Art and the Market – A View from the Inside
There are a handful of immersive Van Gogh exhibits dotting the world map. I had the chance to chat with Annabelle Mauger, who is very early in creating these experiences. The topic we discussed revolved around whether technology is the downfall of artistic integrity.
Image Totale is the original concept of immersive exhibitions, a French know-how invented by Albert Plécy in 1977 and created by his granddaughter Annabelle. With this technology, “warping techniques are used to adapt the surface to the projected image, thus respecting the integrity of the latter to magnify the works, while more traditional mapping techniques focus on adapting the image. ‘image on the surface’. Warping consists of perfectly adjusting the projected work to the scenographic surface.
Purists will certainly argue that any exploitation of the original painting diminishes the artist’s vision. For me, that argument carries a bit of weight initially, but looking back on my conversation with Annabelle, I realized that such a point of view isn’t just elitist, it’s probably quite wrong.
When you think of any classic work of art that has come to be loved over the ages, it’s probably because prints have been made available, copies have been displayed in books, postcards have been mailed. and posters were put up on the walls. It is technology that has enabled these new formats to raise awareness of masterpieces. Moving on to what Annabelle’s grandfather did, we now have the understandable proliferation of immersive experiences. It would be great to do a study to find out the Venn diagram of people who have attended the immersive experience and then go to a museum for the first time in a year. I bet the overlap is impressive.
It’s probably a vague analogy, but I think it’s valid enough to hear a recording of a musical artist enjoyable, but seeing them play live usually is even more enjoyable. Regardless, Pew Research found that 83% of respondents believe to some extent that technology improves diversity and the perception of art.
Annabelle told me that her first vocation was an editor, specializing in art books. There she appreciated the need for space between text and image. She later became exhibition director, then worked on the first immersive place. She noted that such an immersive place offered “a good background because there is none”. It was in 2006 with some video projectors showing paintings by Cézanne. A few years later, she was deeply involved in the first projection show Imagine Van Gogh, based on the last 2 years of her life. It was featured in the part of France where the paintings were made.
In 2011, Annabelle worked on a more advanced immersive place, where she exploited the difference between mapping (adapting the surface where the image will be displayed) and warping (adapting the image you want to project). She stressed: “The latter is the most important. Not everyone can do it right. Immersive is not just about putting the images on different walls. You have to create a dialogue between the paintings.
Annabelle and her team were chosen by Picasso’s estate to take charge of the painter’s work in this medium. The team has a similar project underway with Monet’s work. I can’t wait to swim figuratively in its pond in Giverny.
Obtaining the rights to use the images of the paintings is expensive and time consuming, Annabelle said. It is certainly possible that “The Starry Night” does not appear in the immersive Van Gogh exhibit that you see.
Annabelle concedes that there are now many immersive exhibits, which has caused confusion in the market.
But like all good art over time, the best usually climbs to the top.
The program of the Imagine Van Gogh exhibition is available here.
Imagine Monet exhibition calendar available here.
The program of the Imagine Picasso exhibition is available here.