The other day I stood in line with my husband for a ride in Elitch Gardens, situated in downtown Denver. The idea of the ride is like no other, yet the actual ride mechanics was like a typical haunted house ride with a boxcar to sit in.
Its concept and creation came from Meow Wolf, an art collective stationed out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have permanent art installations in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and now in Denver. Besides the ride, they are planning on another permanent residence.
On the ride’s official website, which is called Kaleidoscape, they bill it as being a thrill ride. It’s not a roller coaster; heck, it doesn’t even go fast. The ride is similar to Buzz Lightyear’s boxcar ride in Disney World. There is a light gun that you use to shoot at triangular lit bullseyes.
My husband and I didn’t understand the point of the guns, even though we used them because there was no scoring system. It wasn’t until I read about it that there is a backstory to the art installation amusement park ride. The guns have “semi-quantum technology” where they are used to guide a light source in becoming a “hyper being.”
Lately, I’ve been reading art news about interactive or immersive art installations, either permanent or traveling, particularly in my city. Interactive art is nothing new; back in the 60s, Yoko Ono gave guests a chance to cut pieces of her clothing in her art performance, Cut Piece. There was also Yard by Allan Kaprow, where guests had to walk overused tires.
Immersive art is on a new level or, that is, the next level. Instead of using items for engagement, you are in the art. In this case, with Kaleidoscape, we were in the art installation and interacting with high-tech guns.
In each megacity in the US, local artists are experimenting with their installation of immersive art. In 2019, there was Natura Obscura by Denver artists Jennifer Mosquera and Eric Jaenike, a dream-like maze for guests. There was also Camp Christmas by Lonnie Hanzon, a landscape of Christmas wonders.
In a couple of months, Denver will be hosting the ever-popular Immersive Van Gogh, where guests will be invited to step into the art of Vincent Van Gogh. The use of projectors and wide screens give the illusion that you’re inside his paintings. Tickets are a bit pricey, but I’ve been told it’s worth it.
The next trending immersive art installation is by New York City artist Alois Kronschlaeger titled Kind of Blue, where guests enter a blue tent-like structure held up by wood, which changes as the blue fabric moves. It is temporarily being viewed in Manhattan, New York.