In a crowded sea of digitized art and exaggerated claims of immersive experiences, "Lasting Impressions" stands out, offering an intimate encounter with masterworks of art without sacrificing their integrity.
In a little under an hour, the viewer sees over a hundred of the most recognized works of 19th-century Impressionist art leaping off a 75-foot, 3D LED screen. Rather than capitalize on the recent trend of photo ops and interactive experiences, Princeton Entertainment Group partnered with the award-winning teams of 3D Live and Northern Gateway Films to create an ambiance of respect and awe.
As visitors walk in, they're handed 3D glasses and asked to turn off their phones and sit down in one of the socially distanced seats inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Suddenly, everything goes dark as the paintings appear to jump off of the screen. With just a bit of added movement and emphasized depth, every painting allows the viewer to experience each brushstroke as if they were inside the work, a feat other similar experiences only claim to do.
As Claude Monet’s Water Lilies flow and glisten and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night swirls and twinkles, the viewer notices aspects of these renowned works that may have been previously overlooked, like the cracks from the paint and certain pops of colors in the landscapes. A rich soundtrack adds to the emotional experience and connection with the paintings.
“I thought the concept of great art shown in a different way with beautiful music that really accompanies the art allowed people to get more out of both: the music and the art," says Ed Kasses, Princeton's director. "It’s kind of a one plus one equals three.”
Though it's tempting to compare "Lasting Impressions" with other immersive art experiences, Kasses sees them as vastly different.
“I hope people get to enjoy both. It’s a great time to re-explore art in different ways," he explains. "Our approach to it is a little more technical because of the 3D. Our approach to the music is different too, because we are basically a company that creates shows about music.”
"Lasting Impressions" is unique amid the current trend of immersive art experiences. But does it live up to its claim that “flat art on a flat wall is so 2020?”
Traditionally at a museum, the viewer gets to pick and choose what they want to see. If a painting isn’t interesting, one can move on to something else. Museums also provide the viewer with context, often offering information on the artist and what medium was used. The freedom to carve out one's own experience helps to capture and hold the viewer's attention.
"Lasting Impressions," on the other hand, confines the viewer to a dark theater and provides little in the way of context. After 30 minutes, it's not hard to find oneself getting restless. More information and a shorter viewing time would likely stave off monotony.
It's also hard not to assume that the show was an easy way for Princenton to get back to offering entertainment experiences after the pandemic kneecapped in-person events. At "Lasting Impressions," it's easy for the audience to maintain social distance while enjoying the show.
Yet, setting aside quibbles about context and motive, "Lasting Impressions" is exceptional. With the help of 3D, one can see these timeless works through the eye of the artist. Every layer of paint and combination of color is emphasized, leaving a traditional art lover more than satisfied.
Might Kasses have anything to say to skeptics in search of a trendier presentation?
“I’d tell that person come, and if you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back.”
"Lasting Impressions." Through Wednesday, June 16, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org. Tickets cost $54.60 to $99.75 via arshtcenter.org.