A Unique Experience at "Sense and Sensibility" Exhibition

25 October 2018

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has launched the Sense and Sensibility Exhibition as part of the Tanween Ithra’s Creativity Season. The exhibition runs throughout the duration of the program inside the Center’s Great Hall, where visitors find unconventional artworks and designs coupled with special technologies and an overall futuristic feel. Visitors are transported away from their familiar everyday lives into an environment that disrupts their senses and logic with new experiments. They are encouraged to look for the inspiration that drives them to reflect upon their inner selves and the nature of the world around them. They might feel that they have traveled to the future, or might lose all sense of time and space outside the Great Hall as they sail in the unfamiliar seas of a new world.

The exhibition revolves around the concept of interaction. It seeks to give the visitors a sense of being part of the artwork by engaging their senses. A brilliant example of that is artist Marije Vogelzang’s “Teardrop” which requires the participation of two persons. It consists of a platform surrounded by strings from all sides, each attached to a pipette filled with flavored water. One person stands in the center of the platform under the pipettes while the other pulls one of the strings, each of which has a card carrying vague phrases like “tell me the secrets of the orange,” or “no running around the water.” By pulling the string, a drop of flavored water falls into the mouth of the first person. The goal of this artwork and interactive experience is to relive the emotions of an infant fed by someone else.

The amazing art installation “Drifter” by Studio Drift is a huge block of cement defying the laws of gravity. It hovers and moves freely in space without any strings pulling it from the ceiling or pillars holding it from the ground. Visitors are driven to think about the factors that are keeping this block afloat. The staff keep its secrets hidden in order to challenge the typical mindset of thinking about inanimate objects around us. This provokes the visitors to think outside the box to make the impossible possible.

In another installation called “The Silent Fall” by Studio Swine, visitors find themselves before a stream of huge fog-filled bubbles cascading down from an eight-meter fall, creating an uncanny simulacrum of a waterfall. In nature, the roaring white water of a waterfall is the result of the flow of billions of bubbles which cumulatively explode at the base of the fall, creating a roaring boom and the spray of fog. The artwork presents that experience to the visitors, but on a larger scale and slower pace.

In a different part of the exhibition, visitors can enter another world and draw using Google’s 3-D virtual brush. Visitors wear 3-D glasses and use controls to paint lines, lights, stars and even fire. It is a unique drawing experience that gives the visitors the ability to create a world of their imagination, and interact with the art of drawing in a new way and with higher levels.

“Lotus” is an artwork depicting a futuristic metal flower that merges nature-inspired architecture with advanced technologies. The structure blooms and glows subtly in reaction to the heat of visitors’ hands, creating a poetic morphing of space and people. It provokes visitors to think about the crossover between science and art in an immersive experience.

The exhibition also boasts an artwork from Shepherd Studio called “Mat” which is a prayer mat unique in many aspects. Parts that do not touch the body during the different positions of prayer have been cut in order to teach children and new learners where to stand and prostrate. Feet and the forehead are placed on the uncut parts to make it easier to learn. It is also an economical mat as it cuts down on wasted material in the areas on the mat that are not used.

In one corner of the exhibition, soothing sounds flow from an art installation known as “Untitled” by artist Majed Angawi. It is a dark room, the walls of which are covered with mirrors. Visitors enter without knowing what they will find inside in order to preserve the element of surprise. Soothing sounds come out from speakers placed around the room to help the visitors meditate and encourage them to refocus their senses on the elements of their surrounding environment. This experience mimics the feeling of being drawn deeply into the voices in our heads, ultimately reaching a point of stillness and clarity. It aims to encourage the visitors to think about their reaction to the sounds and the element of surprise. Visitors do not know where their thoughts will take them. Every visitor comes out from the room with a different feeling.