I like art as much as the next person. I’m not particularly a connoisseur, but I do have my favourite artists, Dali being one of them. Like many exhibitions in London, Dali : Cybernetics is billed as being an immersive experience that allows you to step into his paintings, but let me tell you, that explanation does not do it justice. The first bit, sure (more on that later), but the 15-minute, virtual reality, metaverse experience? It was mind blowing. I got a sneak peek of the Dali : Cybernetics exhibition and its metaverse just before it opened on Friday, December 23; read on for my review.
The main exhibition
Dali : Cybernetics is located at The Boiler House on Brick Lane, just across the road from the Truman’s Brewery beer garden. The entrance to the exhibition, however, is located just around the corner on Buxton Street. Look for the huge gate seconds from the corner; you can’t miss it. From the moment we stepped into the courtyard, there was a clue of what awaited us, as the sounds of the surreal, almost mesmerising, music wafted from the building. The ticket check in was a smooth process, then we were on our way in.
The first part of the exhibition is effectively a crash course on Dali. We learned about all that influenced him, from science to people to technology, and everything in between, all neatly displayed in a clear timeline. Recognisable imagery was presented side by side with some of his lesser known works, and I was reminded just how recently Dali lived. With many iconic artists, I always fathom they were part of the fabric of history – we learned of these artists at school, where everything seemed pretty old, right? – but the image of Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper brought it back home. The whole exhibition is suitable for all the family, whether you’re in school, just left, or desperately trying to recall facts about Dali from classes decades ago.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, we heard from people who knew Dali first hand, as well as Dali himself, from a large rolling film. The quote “[he aimed to] bridge the gap between man and angel” really stood out to me. There was also an interactive art section where, using tablets, we got creative alongside both children and adults alike. The colours you can use are harsh and contrasting to one another; much like those in Dali’s works. You can send your finished piece to the screen for all to see once you’re done.
Before you enter the metaverse at the Dali : Cybernetics exhibition, you first enter another rather immersive room. Donning 3D glasses, we ventured into the large space, and settled onto the provided deck chairs and bean bags. Projection mapping depicting Dali’s works, influences and story quite literally cover floor to ceiling; at some points you feel as if you’re moving, although you’re sat still, and it is rather hypnotic. Again, like his works, the experience is bold and unapologetic.
Right, the metaverse. I don’t say this lightly, but I’ve never experienced anything as amazing as this at an art exhibition before. It was incredible. I’ve had a few goes with my friend’s VR set at her house, playing games like Beat Saber, and I was amazed by that. This is even better! The VR simulation will take you through desert, sea and space, where you encounter various aspects of Dali’s art from the comfort of your ship. You can amble around, with your shiny, copper hands (lol, I couldn’t stop admiring my hands), engaging with everyone else in there. It feels so realistic. So much so that I felt like I needed to hold on the the railings when we hit a bump in the sea, and I fully screamed when one of the ants from Dali’s The Ants came at me. I had to remind myself I was actually in the safety of a VR room on East London’s Brick Lane on multiple occasions. It really made me question my perception, something Dali himself encouraged with his artwork, and I didn’t want to leave. Technology is wild, y’all.
I have to say, if you’re considering heading to Dali : Cybernetics exhibition to see the metaverse and everything else, don’t just take the words of my review: definitely go yourself. The first part of the exhibition is incredibly informative and will satisfy Dali and art enthusiasts in general, while the metaverse will capture the minds of any- and everyone. Tickets to Dali : Cybernetics are available now.