As the art landscape in Dubai continues to grow, the city is expanding beyond the realm of traditional art galleries and exhibitions. Digital media is another way to appreciate art and this is why all eyes are on the newly inaugurated Theatre of Digital Art (ToDA). Spread over 1,800 sqm, it is a fully immersive interactive art experience that is a permanent addition to Souk Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. 

This is a unique art, education, and multi-media entertainment hub utilizing a combination of pioneering technologies and clever storytelling to deliver interactive art, culture, and science experiences. Bringing together three digital art format presentations – multimedia exhibitions, virtual reality (VR), and interactive exhibits for children – ToDA is all set to host a full calendar of innovative art shows. 

‘From Monet to Kandinsky, Revolutionary Art’ is the inaugural multimedia exhibition showcasing the masterpieces of nine of the world’s most iconic modernist artists. Digital art is an inventive new way to see their work under one roof that is immersive, interactive, and multisensory. 

Unlike traditional galleries there are no long lines or barriers here. There is just one large space and the audience is invited to walk around freely or then get themselves comfortable on the bean bags for the duration of the show. No matter how prepared you may think you are, this experience allows you to explore and see the works enlarged and from a whole new perspective. Brace yourselves for an emotional journey!

Gigantic life-size images come to life in this dark studio and are projected across the room on the walls, floor, and ceiling– wherever you look they are on display in a dramatic, large-scale, cinematic manner. The accompanying soundtrack is perfectly executed and beyond excellent. It will surely take you by surprise, in fact it is hard not to be moved. You are no longer just viewing the art from outside, instead you are cocooned by it, able to observe the smallest of details. 

The dreamlike spectacle takes you through the different eras of modernist movements from Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Pointillism, and Expressionism. Some of the most recognized pieces like Munch’s Scream, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Blossoming Almond Tree, and Monet’s Water Lilies are included here. 

The 45-minute symphony for the senses is then followed by the audience moving to the Virtual Reality space that also incorporates 3D and Augmented Reality. While your first reaction would be that this is all too gimmicky, once you put on the headset, that changes and you will feel completely absorbed by each artwork and the depth of detail the space allows you to explore and discover. There is a sense of calm as you come up close and personal with each piece without the usual chaos of people and lines when at a gallery.  

The last interactive room is an absolute treat for the children where they can let out their own creative side. There is a user-friendly set up for children to use their imagination and draw their own masterpieces that are then displayed on the large screens around the room. 

Digital art is a clever new approach with a whole new dimension of making art more accessible as it is engaging for all ages, especially children. While the charm of standing in front of a masterpiece and having your own deeply personal moment can never be replaced, digital display evokes different types of emotions by breaking traditional boundaries that naturally separate the viewer from the artwork..  In some ways this is a far more intimate and intriguing way to appreciate the selected works. 

No matter what your opinion might be, this is an absolute treat for the senses and you won’t leave unmoved! 

ToDA can accommodate up to 500 visitors, but to align with Dubai-wide health and safety guidelines for Covid-19, the current capacity is for 120 visitors with regular facility-wide sanitization programs.

ToDA Dubai is open daily from 12 noon to 11pm. For further information on the theatre’s engaging exhibits, ticket prices, shows and more, follow ToDA on social media @todadubai or visit toda.ae.

Words by: Saira Malik
Images: Courtesy of Saira Malik

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