Cipriani is getting in on the pop-up museum trend. The owners of the Italian luxury restaurant empire have teamed up with multimedia studio the Moment Factory to launch a remarkably enjoyable immersive summer art experience called SuperReal. At turns abstract, surreal, and futuristic, the installation’s heart is a 45-minute animation that runs on a loop, transporting the viewer into multidimensional realms that blur the lines between the physical and the digital worlds.
The SuperReal experience takes place at 25 Broadway, a landmarked historical building that has operated as a Cipriani event space since 2000. Built in 1921, the Italian Renaissance-style building originally served as a ticketing hall for the Cunard Steamship Line. Travelers would buy passage for transatlantic journeys beneath the soaring ceilings of the first floor lobby.
“It’s a really unique architectural building,” Mel Weigel, a creative director at the Moment Factory, told artnet News. “We were just very much inspired by the beauty and history of 25 Broadway, and we wanted to make a historical landmark accessible to the public. Cipriani hosts incredible events, but generally speaking, they’re all private events.”
In comparison, anyone can buy a $24 ticket to SuperReal (children six and under are free). That might seem pricey when you consider it’s only a dollar less than New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it’s par for the course for these pop-up experiences (actually, it’s on the lower end).
For your money, you get a rather engaging experience. The visual effects created by the Moment Factory team are truly remarkable, transforming the building’s great hall into a series of dreamlike, otherworldly environments, all set to evocative music from the likes of John Cage and Tim Hecker.
Most pop-up museums rely on set design, creating colorful, interactive photo backdrops that visitors can pose with on social media. Not so at SuperReal, which presents an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of animated landscapes, from a classical sculpture garden, to a bright blue sky of free-floating mylar balloons, to a swirling galaxy of shooting stars, to an array of giant, blooming flowers.
Posing for photos is tough because the room is dark for most of the video, but you can take a break from the search for the perfect selfie to lie back on a beanbag chair or the mirrored floor and enjoy the show.
The building’s great hall proves the perfect canvas for the Moment Factory’s masterful use of projection mapping, the discipline that launched the company’s reputation. “It’s been at the heart of what we’ve done, way before the immersive pop-up concept,” Jamie Reilly, a Moment Factory producer, told artnet News, noting that the company has worked on productions for such varied clients as Madonna, the NFL, and the Los Angeles Airport.
“We have a big team of highly specialized animators and sound designers,” said Weigel. “We’re very collaborative. It’s really a big joint effort of creative technology and technical creativity.”
SuperReal is entirely site-specific, with the animated designs meshing perfectly with the ornate moldings, panels, and other architectural details of the space. At times, it is almost impossible to tell where the architecture ends and the animations begins—which is of course the point. Where does reality end and the imagination begin?
“It’s impressions,” said Weigel. “It’s an experiment in moods and sound, and it’s really something playful.”
See more photos of SuperReal below.
SuperReal is on view at 25 Broadway, New York, August 1–September 2, 2019.
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