Drive throughs have experienced something of a renaissance during the pandemic. After spending years confined to the realms of 90s nostalgia thanks to the growth of on-demand entertainment and food delivery services, the idea of hopping in a car and experiencing something first-hand now represents a healthy antidote to the stay-at-home claustrophobia felt by many.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Production Resource Group (PRG), art lovers have a new way of experiencing the works they love, through the inspired installation of a new Immersive Drive-through Van Gogh exhibit, now appearing in Toronto, Canada.
Based on the groundbreaking display in Paris’s Atelier des Lumières, this world-first brings together vivid representations of Van Gogh’s masterpieces in a Covid-safe environment, allowing art lovers to enjoy the most cutting-edge digital art installation while remaining in their family bubbles.
The unique exhibit has become the world’s first immersive drive-in art experience after producers adapted an existing digital art show to allow for social distancing. Artistic director Massimiliano Siccardi unveiled his plans to make the experience Covid-friendly by designing space for up to 40 cars to visit the exhibit at any one time, as well as welcoming visitors on foot with social distancing circles in place once lockdown restrictions had been eased.
The experience features a 35-minute show that showcases 40 pieces of the Dutch artist’s work, including Sunflower, Irises and The Starry Night, across the 600,000 square feet space and its 8-metre-high walls. Bringing the paintings to life are 52 Panasonic projectors, and a top of the range audio configuration streaming an original classical composition by Luca Longbardi.
The gallery space has been adapted to accommodate vehicles, with a dimly lit exhibition area allowing visitors to park up and experience the stunning 360 imagery and soundscapes wherever they turn their head. The music that accompanies the show plays over speakers in the gallery but visitors have additional control as it is broadcast over a local radio station.
Whether drive-through art exhibitions are just a temporary measure or something that may ultimately catch on is yet to be determined. However it is received, it stands as a shining example of how the digital art world is continuing to pioneer new types of experiences for culture lovers, as well as typifying the fluidity of the art form itself. While traditional art spaces housing physical art collections have little room for manoeuvre due to the restrictions, digital art is coming into its own through its own adaptability, allowing culture-starved visitors to continue to enjoy art throughout these difficult circumstances.
By Richard Oxley