Month: December 2021

Beyond Van Gogh

Perspective: noun

  1. the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
    “a perspective drawing”
  2. a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
    “most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective”

Perspective is something we have to think about each day in our business. The perspective of the consumer. The perspective of the visitor. The perspective of the viewer. And now more than ever, perspective also lends itself to the visual stories we tell, whether online, in print, on film, or experienced first hand.

Last week our agency had the opportunity to attend Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience at the BJCC here in Birmingham. This traveling exhibit unveils the story of the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh as never before told – in his own words through correspondence with his brother Theo. Through these letters we were introduced to Van Gogh in a new way, not as a world renowned artist but as a poor man who struggled to find his place in the world.

The highlight of the exhibit is an immersive room where 3D projection mapping brings to life Van Gogh’s paintings, words and dreams sweeping across the walls, floor, columns – even the visitors – all set to music making it a full sensory experience. The perspective shifts each direction you look and from which angle of the room you are standing. We were told by one of the attendants that he had seen the looping video in the room at least seventy times and each time he saw something new and different.

Much of Van Gogh’s work is familiar to us all, none more famous than his pièce de résistance, The Starry Night, which depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. I had a poster of it in my room growing up and I’m pretty sure a poster of it is hanging in the art room of my girls’ elementary school right now. But as an Art History major at Auburn University I fell in love with Van Gogh’s unique style and his use of texture and color – and the fact that we share a birthday. I’ve stared at his work for hours, memorized certain brush strokes and wondered what he was thinking as he created hundreds of masterpieces over his relatively short life. But perhaps most fascinating to me is that in his lifetime, Van Gogh only sold one painting. He never lived to know people liked his work, much less that he would become one of the most famous artists in history. Add time to the list of things that can drastically change perspective.

For me, what I enjoyed most about the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit was that it was a new way to experience something I’ve loved for so long. His paintings all have such movement and feel almost dreamlike, and seeing them come to life in actual motion, surrounding you as if you’d walked into them, is how I imagine he felt while painting them. Experiencing a Van Gogh painting in real life and letting your imagination run wild has always been a pretty immersive experience. Now it truly is, and has given me a whole new perspective on his work and how to approach mine.