The unstoppable rise of the “immersive” experience

Have you ever dreamed of stepping into a Van Gogh painting or time traveling to ancient Egypt?

Well, step this way, because immersive experiences take us deeper into the worlds of art and history than ever before.

A walk through Van Gogh’s magical village of St. Remy Starry Night or discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb is now possible thanks to amazing advances in projection, virtual reality and entirely new design spaces.

Immersive experiences may have been around since the 1960s, but technological advancements have taken them to another level.


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CGTN visited El Matadero in Madrid, a former slaughterhouse that has been transformed into a sprawling creative space that has invested more than $3 million in an entire building designed specifically for immersive experiences.

Huge 360-degree projection rooms, VR headsets and touch-screen tablets take you on a journey into the past and the future.

It is impressive and attractive, full of people young and old, and it is no wonder that this industry is growing rapidly.

In the United States alone, it is worth more than $60 billion and has grown by 30 percent in the past two years.

“We don’t want to replace the experience of going to a traditional museum to see the original artifacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb,” Marcos Camara told CGTN in Matadero. He is one of the partners of Madrid Artes Digitales – the people who put together the Tutankhamun exhibition – but sees these experiences as complementary rather than substitutes.

“We just want to help people discover what Egypt was like back then and the environment they lived in—the temples, the tombs, the art, the people. It’s something we can do with technology, so why not bring people there?”

Hollywood hug

In the US, Disney is the latest big name to sign up. Specialists Lighthouse Immersive have been hired to create an ambitious sensory experience for all fans.

President Corey Ross gave CGTN a sneak peek of what’s to come in this exciting industry: Bubbles. Lots of bubbles.

“On our Disney show, we hired the world’s greatest bubble designer,” he smiles. “It seems like a strange thing to do, but we can fill 500,000 cubic feet with bubbles in seconds, we need to do it – take what’s currently mostly a video experience and start applying haptics. elements like bubbles, interactive video, things you can touch, move and react to.

Public spaces are currently undergoing major changes with working from home following the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lighthouse Immersive has transformed spaces such as an old printing press in Toronto, a supermarket in Nashville, and a record store in Hollywood into immersive experience spaces.

His success is impressive: the last Van Gogh exhibition sold more than six million tickets in the United States.

Ross said South Korea and Japan are now target markets, but one country would be big for them.

“We are fascinated by the Chinese market,” he says. “It is interesting from the point of view of business. It is very interesting for us”.

Immersive experiences have become popular and major entertainment companies are already on board.

In this post-COVID-19 era, these shared collective experiences in public spaces feel more important than ever.

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