Drawing visitors with a touch of tech

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Drawing visitors with a touch of tech


Anticlockwise from left: “A Digital Odyssey: Secret Museum” ushers visitors into an in-depth exploration of 35 masterpieces. “The Summer” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, above, has been digitally enlarged. Provided by the museum

“It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.… The problem of painting night scenes and effects on the spot and actually by night interests me enormously,” Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo about his inspiration for “Starry Night Over the Rhone.”

Although it’s hard to feel exactly what the master felt in the darkness, we can immerse ourselves in his world by walking in a room covered with a vivid digital image of the painting complete with sounds like a flowing river and singing crickets.

The rare opportunity is part of “A Digital Odyssey: Secret Museum,” which offers an in-depth exploration of 35 digital versions of pieces from the 16th to the 21st centuries, including “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein, “Sun Setting Over The Seine At Lavacourt, Winter Effect” by Claude Monet and “The Summer” by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The exhibition brought them all together in one place to revive the much-acclaimed 2010 exhibition “Revelations” from Petit Palais in France.

The Korean show opened its doors last Wednesday and focuses on seven themes: drawing, color, light, shadow, perspective, materials and emotion. With cutting-edge technology like a high-resolution screen, holograms, a 3-D multiscreen and customized sounds, each display will immediately draw viewers into the time period and ambience of each painting. The enlargements also allow close inspection of brush strokes, subtle facial expressions and other elements that are easy to miss at a glance.

There is also an added dynamic that aims to keep viewers interested in the classic pieces both visually and acoustically.

One of the most popular is the digital version of oil painting “Rain, Steam and Speed” by Joseph Mallord William Turner. Customized sound breathes new life into the image of swirling clouds, rain and steam from an oncoming train.

Another must-see is the 3-D multidisplay featuring “Boy with a Spinning Top” by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, in which the top in motion conjures up childhood memories. “The Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Bocklin also sparks the imagination with 3-D glasses.

“Museums aren’t very popular among young people today,” said Christophe Leribaultt, the curator of Petit Palais, who visited Seoul to mark the opening of the exhibition. “So we utilized technology in hopes of creating a young, vibrant museum that could draw them in.

“It is nearly impossible to bring such great works together, but we get the rare opportunity through technology. Every detail of every painting can be examined via high-resolution displays that take visitors on an authentic journey.”

Along with world masterpieces are six paintings by Koreans such as Ha Seok-jun and You Jae-heung. “People who have no knowledge about paintings can’t easily understand how to appreciate them,” said Seo Min-seok, the curator of the Seoul Arts Center. “This exhibition helps them to understand better.”

“Secret Museum” runs through Sept. 22 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Hangaram Art Museum.

Tickets are 12,000 won ($10.60) for adults, 10,000 won for high school and middle students, and 8,000 won for children. Go to Nambu Bus Terminal Station, line No. 3, exit 5.

The exhibition is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m but closed on the last Monday of every month.

For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit www.secretmuseum.co.kr.

BY AHN JOO-HEE. CONTRIBUTING WRITER [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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