This year’s edition of BMW Art Club. The Future is Art will see the first Polish presentation of the VR experience EVOLVER. The immersive, multimedia work of art, created by London-based art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast, uses an innovative fusion of art, science and modern technology to drop audiences deep inside the landscape of the body, following the flow of oxygen through our branching ecosystem, to a single “breathing” cell.
The project was created in collaboration with various prominent cultural figures, with narration by Cate Blanchett, and a score featuring music from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, amongst others. The premiere of EVOLVER in the Opera Gallery of the Polish National Opera has been set for 12th October 2023. The exhibition will be open until 10th December.
Artistic dimension of science
Science and art give expression to the same human need – the need to understand and describe the world. EVOLVER is a free-roaming, immersive deep dive that takes viewers through the processes that sustain all life. The all-encompassing VR experience takes us on a journey through the microcosm of the human body, which simultaneously acts as the macrocosm of nature. Exploring structures hidden far beneath the skin, viewers are taken through a sequence of breathing, visualizing the very essence of life itself, as air travels from the mouth into the lungs, before circulating around the complex rivers of our cardiovascular system and back out into the natural world.
Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) seek to highlight the common denominator between scientific precision and the emotional experience of art. Placing audiences at the centre of these ecosystems aims to bring them closer to an understanding of our interconnectedness. Key contribution was brought to EVOLVER by invited artists and consultants from prestigious scientific centres. The executive producer is director Terrence Malick, a living cinematic legend, the author of such classics as “Badlands”, “The Thin Red Line”, and “The Tree of Life”. EVOLVER features the powerful voice of actress Cate Blanchett. The work also features contributions from poet Daisy Lafarge and Radiohead’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood. EVOLVER’s score also features musical pieces by the vocal innovator Meredith Monk, Golden Globe-winning composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, the composer, pianist and accordion player Howard Skempton, and
musician and electronic music producer Jon Hopkins.
The creation of EVOLVER would not be possible without the support of scientists from a range of centres researching the human body. They kept tabs on the quality of every detail of the scans of the human body used by the artists and reproduced in virtual reality. Scientific consultants of the project include Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine MEVIS, The Allen Institute for Cell Science and Buck Institute for Research on Ageing.
When building EVOLVER, the artists from MLF were trying to strike balance between different dimensions: aesthetic, scientific, visual and auditory, to create a virtual universe which is both true and beautiful, which appeals to the senses and emotions, which opens a space for an intellectual reflectionpoints out Stach Szab?owski, the curator of BMW Art Club. The Future is Art.
A visionary experience for the senses
Since the very first edition, BMW Art Club. The Future is Art explores those fields of culture where the combination of art and technology gives birth to new ideas, answers to the challenges of the present day as well as visions of the future. This year’s edition touches upon the issue that has been central for the whole cycle: how new technologies can enhance the capabilities of artists and our understanding of the contemporary world with the place which humans occupy in it. EVOLVER presented in the Opera Gallery is a technologically advanced visionary experience for the senses. It begins with a ten-minute audio meditation in a specially designed relaxation space. Spectators are invited to decompress, guided by the voice of Cate Blanchett. In the next room, they proceed to take part in a VR experience, accompanied by a monumental, multidimensional video screening. With VR googles on, they embark on a twenty-minute virtual journey through the human body, following the flow of oxygen, as it is taken into the lungs and travels to its final destination – an individual cell of the body – a living microcosm, which reflects the structure of the whole universe. The third part of EVOLVER – the epilogue – encourages reflection over the recent experience. It takes the form of a gallery, presenting digital pieces created by the members of Marshmallow Laser Feast and a film expanding on the narrative of the exhibition.
Audiovisual technologies, such as VR, can be used to escape reality or to delve deep in artificial worlds far away from real-life problems. But the same technologies can be used to an opposing effect. New digital tools allow us not only to perceive, but also to get to know and understand the world in a way which not long ago was hardly imaginable – stresses Barnaby Steel, co-founder of Marshmallow Laser Feast.
The Future is Art in the Opera Gallery of the Polish National Opera in Warsaw will be open from 12 October until 10 December 2023. The patron of the project – BMW – opens all the screenings to general audience for free
Open registration at: butik.teatrwielki.pl and teatrwielki.pl or at the ticket office of the National Opera, Teatr Wielki from September 12th. More information about the BMW Art Club. The Future is Art can be found at: bmw.pl/artclub
The world premiere of EVOLVER project took place at Tribeca Film Festival 2022 in New York. The exhibition presented as part of BMW Art Club.
The Polish premiere of EVOLVER is supported by Morele GeForce RTX Studio PCs, equipped with GeForce RTX 4080 GPUs and certified by NVIDIA. They are part of the NVIDIA Studio platform, aimed at artists, designers, engineers and other professionals who need powerful tools to work with graphics, video or virtual reality. The platform includes high-performance graphics cards, specialised software, and dedicated Studio drivers that deliver optimal performance and stability with the most popular 3D graphics, video, and animation software. The entire system has been created specifically for professional graphics applications, which include real-time ray traced rendering or support for AI technologies.