Visitors to ArtScience Museum will soon be able to take a captivating multi-sensory journey through the ecosystem of a vast forest in its upcoming virtual reality installation, We Live in an Ocean of Air at the Museum’s permanent VR Gallery. Created by Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF), one of the world’s leading experiential art collectives, We Live in an Ocean of Air is a 12-minute long immersive experience that transports visitors across the globe to Sequoia National Park, California – a forest filled with giant sequoia trees.
Visitors are invited to follow their breath through the forest, discovering the inner life of a giant sequoia tree. In this stunning multi-sensory experience, state-of-the-art technology including breath sensors and heart rate monitors, visualise the human cardiovascular system as a pulsing red glow and transcribe visitors’ breath as a cascade of particles. The resulting artwork is an extraordinary, yet meditative, encounter that illuminates the invisible, yet fundamental, connection between humans and the natural world.
“The opening of We Live in an Ocean of Air in our VR Gallery is a landmark event for ArtScience Museum. Bringing one of the world’s leading art collectives working with virtual reality and extended reality technologies to Singapore to present one of their most ambitious works has long been a dream for our team,” said Honor Harger, Vice President of Attractions at Marina Bay Sands. “This installation is truly multi-sensory, showcasing the very frontiers of immersive experience. It combines virtual reality, breath sensors, monumental projection, surround sound, scent, and special effects. It is an artwork that fundamentally connects people with nature, by revealing the invisible ecosystems that we live within, reminding us of the importance of conserving forests for our collective future.”
Visual artist Ersin Han Ersin, one of Marshmallow Laser Feast’s three creative directors, added, “Through this and other creations, we strive to repair a broken connection with nature through art. Humanity is dependent on the natural world for everything – from food to water to air we breathe. We want to channel our audience into an understanding of our interconnectedness by placing them in the centre of these ecosystems.”
Forged at the intersection of art, science, and technology, We Live in an Ocean of Air seamlessly blends the digital world with the physical space through a unique combination of technologies. Visitors to the installation will be given a personal rig consisting of a VR headset, heart rate monitor, breath sensors and a body tracking device, that will give them the freedom to roam around and interact with the space untethered. Through the use of large projection screens, participants will be welcomed into the heart of the virtual forest before further exploration reveals the full scope of its scale. The addition of binaural sound, scent dispersal systems, and wind machines will enhance the environment to provide a multi-sensory experience beyond audio and video. Each session accommodates a group of six people, allowing for an individual as well as a collective experience.
We Live in an Ocean of Air builds upon earlier award-winning multi-sensory experiences by MLF including In the Eyes of an Animal, which showcases a 360º vision of a forest from the perspective of animals and insects, and Treehugger, where the inner circulatory system of a tree is visualised through the journey of water from its roots up to its leaves. In We Live in an Ocean of Air, the interconnected exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that is shown to occur between plant and animal, encourages participants to contemplate their dependence on – and responsibility towards – other living things in the natural world. Prior to its Asian debut in Singapore, We Live in an Ocean of Air premiered in 2018 at The Saatchi Gallery in London for a sold-out run, which was extended twice due to popular demand.
In addition to We Live In An Ocean of Air, the ArtScience Museum also debuts the ArtScience Cinema, a purpose-built screening room that completes the transformation of its Level 4 spaces. With its refreshed offerings, Level 4 will provide a new dimension to the museum experience through the exploration of various digital mediums. Art, science, and technology will come together in a holistic experience that will push the boundaries.
The rolling programmes of innovative virtual reality artworks and films will be curated year-round to complement ArtScience Museum’s ongoing seasons and exhibitions. The Level 4 relaunch will feature a vast array of ecology-inspired programmes that explore and celebrate one’s connection to their environment, ecosystems, and relationships with nature. As the exhibition extends beyond the exhibition galleries, visitors are invited to explore these immersive environments and discover the invisible but fundamental bonds between humans and nature.
“ArtScience Museum’s Level 4 spaces have been converted into a place where visitors can enjoy cutting-edge digital art and film, as well as immersive virtual reality experiences that take visitors on journeys of the imagination far beyond the Museum’s walls. ArtScience Cinema will be a place to experience innovation and creativity in film, featuring a dynamic and changing programme of acclaimed art house movies through to mainstream, and family-friendly films that will appeal to a variety of audiences,” said Adrian George, Director: Programmes, Exhibitions and Museum Services, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands.
ArtScience Cinema will open its doors as the Museum’s newly renamed and refurbished home for its moving image programme. With an emphasis on exploring the intersection of art, science, and technology through film and emerging media, the cinema will present curated film programmes year-round which will include feature films, cinematic retrospectives, festival selections, documentaries, and more. Featuring red plush armchairs and high-quality surround-sound wireless headphones, the purpose-built screening room delivers a truly immersive cinematic experience.
There are four wheelchair access points at some of the best viewing angles for the large cinema screen, with a total seating capacity of 66. Beyond the traditional role of a cinema, it will also explore the role of moving images in museums by showcasing works by both emerging and established artists. To keep films in the public’s reach, ArtScience Cinema will offer both free and ticketed admission. The opening film programme titled We Tread in a Garden of Spells has been specially curated to complement the installation, with a wide variety of works exploring the theme of environmentalism through cinematic magic-realism, including film festival selections across Sundance and Berlinale, iconic pieces from celebrated auteurs like Abbas Kiarostami and Chloé Zhao to indie darlings Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze, as well as riveting one-of-a-kind documentaries.
“Since the launch of our VR Gallery last year, we have presented two exciting programmes of virtual reality artworks, and now we present one of our most ambitious interactive works to date – We Live in an Ocean of Air by London-based art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast – that brings humanity’s relationship with nature to life in a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional way,” adds Adrian George. “As the Museum launches the new cinema and We Live in an Ocean of Air side by side we continue to highlight some of the most urgent challenges our planet faces in the 21st century through thought-provoking art-science experiences that delight and engage.”
Images courtesy of Marshmallow Laser Feast
We Live in an Ocean of Air will run from 28th May 2022 to 2nd October 2022 at the ArtScience Museum. Tickets and more information available here