If art history class put you to sleep and your idea of a trip to an art museum is spending just enough time there to snap a picture for Snapchat – then explore the XYZT: Abstract Spaces exhibit at the newly opened Artechouse.
The photogenic and innovative exhibit features digital creations by French artists Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne that allow visitors to interact with the art created by lights and projected images. XYZT: Abstract Spaces is the inaugural exhibit inside Artechouse, an art gallery just yards away from the National Mall at 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, which opened to the public Thursday.
The exhibit was named for the dimensions of horizontal (X), vertical (Y), depth (Z) and time (T). The art fills 10 rooms in the gallery and embodies its namesake by covering every inch of space in each room and lapsing through time.
When walking through Artechouse, viewers are immediately transported to a world painted in black and white, filled with digital images of lines, numbers, letters and simple shapes. As you interact with them, the images move and make noise.
The visitor becomes a part of the exhibit from the second they arrive. The first piece they encounter is called “Amorphous in Time,” a screen that shows one half of the guest with their movements in slow motion. The bottom image is recorded four seconds slower than the top image, giving the participant’s body a uniquely distorted appearance.
Pieces featured in XYZT: Abstract Landscapes are almost all interactive, relying on the visitor’s touch, motion or even breath to operate effectively. As you walk through each room, the people around you will be dancing and reaching out to touch things that are projected on the wall.
Artechouse co-founder Tati Pastukhova said the exhibit is the perfect kick off to the opening of the gallery because it brings the 15,000 square-foot space to life with a unique, up-and-coming form of digital art.
“We wanted to showcase artists that reflect today’s world, and the world we live in is very digital,” Pastukhova said. “We hope it will inspire others who are looking to get into this field.”
Pastukhova, who graduated from the Elliott School of International Affairs in 2007 and came back to receive a Master’s in Business Administration in 2011, hopes the space will bring digital, interactive art to mainstream popularity.
Sounds associated with the outdoors, like bird calls, are broadcasted on a constant loop in the exhibit. The sounds give the space a tranquil feel among the constantly moving art.
One piece in the exhibit, “The Field of Vectors,” bears great similarity to a tech-inspired grass field. As you prance through the digital grass, birds and snakes made up of high tech lines appear around you.
Joanna Rieussec, XYZT: Abstract Landscapes’ tour producer, said the decision to make all the art interactive was the result of the artists, Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, who have had careers in the performing arts. Many of the works contain letters and numbers, which are also a remnant of their previous occupations and long-held interests, Rieussec said.
“Adrien was an IT engineer originally, so I think he has a really good relationship with numbers, as you can imagine, and Claire is actually a graphic and stage designer, and she has a real love for books, really well-written books,” Rieussec said. “So I think that’s kind of a starting point for their creation as well.”
XYZT: Abstract Landscapes will be on display at Artechouse Thursday and will remain in the space until September 3. The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets are $15 for general admission or $10 for students, seniors and children. Artechouse also offers evening sessions for ages 21 and older from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily for $25 and visitors can buy craft cocktails as they explore the exhibit.