art dubai ToDA exhibition
Let’s agree – the future doesn’t exist. At every moment it is just an infinity of branching possibilities distanced from our fancies and feelings. From 13th May to 31st August 2022, Theatre of Digital Art (ToDA) located in Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, gives one an opportunity to have a presentiment about the future and experience digital art with its upcoming Digital Extravaganza exhibition. Being at the Theatre, visitors feel as if they were a part of the exhibited artworks. Such an effect is created with the help of the Theatre’s space itself, which is 1,800 m2, a 360-degrees projection of images all over the walls and ceiling and a high quality surround sound.

A technique of prophetic thinking sometimes assumes putting the subject out of a parenthesis, getting rid of its tiresome company – all topical utopia and progressive politics. With this in mind, Digital Extravaganza exploits different kinds of realities: physical, augmented, virtual, even one’s inner to get beyond control of every predefined method. 

Entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by SYNTI, a 3D holographic figure connected to a language bot. This young female robot figure is a representation of artificial intelligence able to discuss the showpieces with the audience. Additionally, “She” introduces short digital artworks which the main visual show consists of. The artworks created by six internationally famous artists are being displayed on enormous screens inside the auditorium of the Theatre.

Among these artists are Jonathan Monaghan, an American visual artist who works across a range of media to produce otherworldly narratives and combines imagery from modern consumerism, eliciting anxieties about an increasingly uncertain future and examining obsessions with material excess in the digital age; Kevin Mack, a pioneer of digital art, computer graphics and visual effects; Luna Ikuta, a multimedia artist based in Los Angeles; Arnaud Laffond, a digital sculptor who creates abstract worlds and virtual environments and others.

Video Out of the Abyss by Jonathan Monaghan. Photography by Monika Wasylewska

Il Gurn, one of the two curators of Digital Extravaganza: “Art deals with an element of surprise and rather transforms fiction into a state (fantasy one may call it) where a new reality is born. Reality is a phenomenon the viewer will get acquainted with here at ToDA. One of the main ideas behind the exhibition is to make each visitor the protagonist in every story, to loop the act of fantasizing. For example, to ride along in an apocalypse-horse in Jonathan Monaghan’s “Out of the Abyss”, learn about the solarpunk movement from “Eyra” by Synticate, become a genetic engineer in Luna Ikuta’s “Afterlife”, reflect upon conspiracies in a futuristic world in “Refuge / Refuse” created by Arnaud Laffond, or discover fairy creatures drawn by a child with special needs in the piece of DarkZuu “A special world: a friendly future”.

Anandala project by Kevin Mack represented in the special designed VR-room. Photography by Monika Wasylewska

Besides the chance to chat with AI and plunge into imaginative land territory, the exhibition offers the visitor to explore a vast three-dimensional labyrinth of evolving shapes and colors in a VR Room, where “Anandala” – an Official Selection of the 78th Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia – is presented. “Anandala”, which during the activity of the exhibition has been awarded as the Best VR/AR Project by the region’s Gulf News, invites visitors to interact and connect with a variety of curious, friendly lifeforms and explore their natural habitat.

Anastasia Garnova
Anastasia Garnova, curator of the exhibition, at the opening ceremony. Photography by Monika Wasylewska

The other curator, Anastasia Garnova declares: “We wish to arouse people’s imagination. We aim to usher them to our plan. We’re here to show miracles. Most commonly miracles don’t expose, they rather restate in abstract forms or lurk behind the bushes of puzzles which the pleader must decipher (sphinxes we adore) or at best get nothing. But in this case no traps are meant. Your ticket will be a pass along the trace to the source of visual delight”.

Video Afterlife by Luna Ikuta. Photography by Monika Wasylewska

Among other initiatives, ToDa in collaboration with Arhead, a phygital platform for creators and brands, invited digital artists from across the globe to participate in its 2022 Digital Extravaganza show and broaden their imagination creating the future they would like to live in within an announced open call. 10 artworks selected out of 211 projects were minted as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Profits from the sale will be shared between ToDA, the NFT platform and the artist. Arhead also gives selected artists an opportunity to present their projects not only in the Theatre space in Dubai but also in the Metaverse gallery opened for people from everywhere.

Digital Extravaganza is open until the 31st of August.

Curators: Anastasia Garnova, Il Gurn.

Artists: Luna Ikuta, Kevin Mack, Arnaud Laffond, Jonathan Monaghan, Synticate, Niko Tiainen, Kate Anomalit, Serena Abou Daher, Gilad Edelstein Anton Sakara, Julia Shamsheieva, Chrryt, Iliya Starilov, Dongsuk Lee / Four seasons, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Chris Corrente.

Online-gallery in the Metaverse-room. Photography by Monika Wasylewska

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