ARTECHOUSE is a newish interactive art space a few blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, DC. Since I’m an easy mark for anything advertised as an “immersive, sensory art experience”,* I headed down to check out the current installation, “Spirit of Autumn”. It didn’t disappoint.
Here’s how it works: “Spirit of Autumn” is open in the evening for people over 21, and during the day for anyone over six years old. In the evening, the bar offers wine and mixed drinks, and the walls change to a darker, bluer colour scheme.
Guests are admitted in small groups, on the hour. There’s no limit to how long you can stay, but people generally spend about 45 minutes on site. You can reserve a slot online, and many of the more desirable times sell out early.
Most of the
action interaction takes place in the large room you see in the above pictures. (The one at the top of the column is from ARTECHOUSE; the others are mine.) The images on the walls are in constant motion, with leaves seemingly blown by the wind. If you approach a wall, the leaves coalesce, and echo your form and movements.
Other parts of the wall turn your silhouette into a ghost-like image.
There’s more. In small spaces off the main room, you can toy with other interactive experiences. The video at the end of this item has examples.
And at the end of the line, there’s a workroom where you can design and colour your own leaves, some of which will be incorporated into the show.
“Spirit of Autumn” in Motion
What you’re seeing, once you get past the poor quality of the video:
The leaves respond to a child’s movement. The image collapses when he gets too close, and reconstitutes when he moves away.
When you walk down a dark hall, leaves on the floor rush to follow you.
The walls react to the movement and sound of the visitors. In some places, they create ghost-like reflections. Clapping in certain parts of the room brings about rain and lightning.
Blobs of colour track your footsteps.
The lady with the dancing leaves.
*God, do I miss laser shows! I wonder if they’ll make a comeback, now that marijuana is legal in the Blue States.