Technology is shaping the way in which hotel buildings are built and designed. Inside the hotel, technology is altering how guests use and journey through spaces as well as how they view interior design. In our latest article in the Hotel Designs Lab series, Ari Peralta, Founder of Arigami, explores the rise of digital, generative and interactive art; a new genre that has the potential to transform guest experiences…
Over the last 10 years, there has been a substantial growth of culture as an experience. The shift from an analog to a digital society has drastically transformed the way in which we create, engage with and appreciate art. In contrast with more static art forms, generative and interactive art pieces allow viewers to step in, respond to and shape the artwork in their own way, or leave behind a trace of their experience.
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An introduction to generative and interactive art
Art is something we do, a verb. It is an expression of our emotions, imagination, and desires, but it is even more personal than that: it is about sharing the way we connect with the world, which for many is an extension of their identity.
Immersive art typically describes installations that envelop the viewer, surrounding them in a multi-sensory environment. Since the development of installation art in the 1960s, artists have experimented with different immersive forms as a way to directly involve participants. The development of technology has continued walking hand-in-hand with progressive artistic concepts and has changed the way art is created and shared, enabling groundbreaking artists and their innovative expressions to gain expanded access to whole new audience groups beyond the conventional boundaries of the art world.
Carla Rapoport, founder and executive director of Lumen Art Projects, has championed art and technology globally. Her organisation celebrates artists creating art with technology through the prestigious Lumen Prize for Art and Tech. She founded the prize and the business because she felt there was a huge lack of understanding and appreciation for the power and energy of art created with tech in the contemporary art world.
Generative and interactive art uses digital processing, computational math and code to transform imagery or make it responsive to environments and views. “Generative art is a style of art which uses algorithms and computing power to create a constant flow of images which never repeat,” explains Rapoport. “When you buy generative art, you are buying a bit of hardware which has been programmed by the artist to create something unique and never-ending”. Carla shared this quote from the blogger Jason Bailey: ‘Generative art takes full advantage of everything that computing has to offer, producing elegant and compelling artworks that extend the same principles and goals artists have pursued from the inception of modern art.’
One of Lumen’s brightest stars is world-renowned artist and 2019 gold winner Refik Anadol, a Turkish-American new media artist and designer. His projects consist of data-driven machine learning algorithms that create abstract, dream-alike environments. His work ‘Melting Memories’ debuted new advances in technology that enabled visitors to experience aesthetic interpretations of motor movements inside a human brain.
The transformed role of the observer
Creation is no longer solely understood as an expression of the artist’s inner creativity, but also as a result of the collaboration between artist and observer.
According to New York-based artist Daniel Kersh, it’s important to distinguish generative art from other rule based art forms like electronic art, computer art, digital art, evolutionary based art, robotic art, and virtual reality art, where an autonomous system may not be present.
At Studio Daniel Kersh, the artists use generative tools to create site-specific installations, artworks, and performances exploring conditions of consciousness, perception, and sensation. At the foundation of all of their work is an invitation to a meditative space and an opportunity for moments of transcendence.
In terms of technology, they utilise game engines, 3D modelling, animation, VFX, and rendering software as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning. “Today’s technology also allows us to pre-visualise artworks for clients in a mock up space before the installation, reducing time needed on-site,” adds Kersh. “Interfaces, computers and sensors can respond to human, bodily elements such as temperature, proximity and motion to create immersive light art and kinetic sculptures.”
Interfaces, computers and sensors can respond to human, bodily elements such as temperature, proximity and motion to create immersive light art and kinetic sculptures.
Each piece from Studio Daniel Kersh is rooted in meditation practice and focused on viewer wellbeing and impact. Kersh discovered generative art to be inherently meditative because of its nature to constantly transform and evolve. It rises and falls, creates and disintegrates, and weaves in and out of chaos and synchronicity.
Interactive art, a vehicle to drive guest bookings
Not all interactive art is the same. Imagine giving hotel guests the ability to slow down and become transported by artistic statements that seamlessly marry technology and design to create a moment of mindfulness. For a great example, look no further than Daniel Kapelian, Creative Director at OMA Space.
OMA Space is an art and design studio based in Seoul. Advocating a return to nature and the embodiment of both Eastern and Western sensibilities, the studio produces work spanning the boundaries of contemporary art and design, immersive installations and garments.
“Our work blends tradition with innovation based on the acquisition of both primitive techniques and digital tools, with a priority emphasis on sustainable coexistence between humanity and nature throughout its design process,” explains Kapelian.
Originally from France, Kapelian works as an art director and in music and film production. Through many design disciplines, he and his team go beyond the usual by experimenting with other fields of contemporary art such as installations and interior design objects.
Drawing inspiration from the slow walks of Zen Buddhist monks around pagodas, ‘Slow Walk’ invites visitors to take part in a ritual walk that brings the participant into more intimate contact with their deepest, most interior self.
A double-spiral path is laid across a 100 square-metre circular site designed to process the walk barefoot and in slow motion from the edge to the centre and back. From rough to delicate. The first-step sections of the spiral path begin on rough mineral textures meant to awaken the senses, to stimulate the feet and full attention, focus, and equilibrium. As the walk progresses, the textures become increasingly softer and lighter. The last sections end on vegetal textures giving a pleasant and delicate sensation.
“The slow-paced walking movement is naturally encouraged through the lights that guide the way together with the synchronised sound,” says Kapelian, whose his mission as an artist is to address the matters of humankind’s disconnectedness from the harmonising power of nature.
Ultimately, hotels must broaden their mission. We have arrived at a time when most people consider a hotel beyond a place to sleep. Hotels must become more creative at enriching experiences, and part of that effort means considering the art on view, the programming supporting it, as well as the hours of operation.
When considering generative and interactive art, location, architecture and design all matter, and can descend into a meaningless void if they don’t provide the foundation for true human interaction. The highest goal is a shared experience, and the best hotels that already know how to capture that magic should be the ones investing in interactive installations.
This poly-sensorial experience is an inner-journeying toward a solitary exploratory moment: the spiral returns us to ourselves to reach life’s essential state of awareness.
Artists are now leveraging tech and science to improve guest wellbeing
It’s no surprise in today’s climate that people find travel stressful, whether it’s for business or pleasure. “Providing the healing aspects of generative art is an unobtrusive way to show that the hotel cares about its guests’ wellbeing,” adds Rapoport. “It sets the hotel out as a place for recovery after a long trip or even a long day.”
Therein lies the opportunity for hospitality designers. Think beyond sensors and step into the realm of wellness-driven biofeedback art experiences. This subgroup of experiential artists with an added sensitivity for mental health and wellbeing, are pushing forward with truly remarkable and transformative works.
Mexican-Canadian A.I. artist Isabella Salas exemplifies this curious new crowd of hybrid creatives who are interweaving biofeedback technologies into the mix to further elevate art experiences. “For me, the excitement of generative art is directly connected to biometrics and the human anatomy and functions” says Salas. “Generative art opens another unexplored dimension – it relates reactions, the beginning of all, the interconnection, the infinite possibilities, the never ending wonder we could experience in every given second.”
After five years of working with this medium, she feels generative art simply helps guests contemplate, absorb, regenerate, relearn and become infinite with it. “What is not exciting about that,” she asks. “Generative art creates an opportunity to creatively interact and engage with data. It can be used to promote engagement, play as well as a sense of joy. With added biofeedback, generative art can also help us to visualise our internal states and bring more awareness to them. It’s possible for generative art to be a powerful gateway for discovering the inner knowledge of our own minds and bodies.”
“Many artists and art professionals are transforming the art world by leveraging technology as an art and design medium.” – Ari Peralta, Founder, Arigami.
Generative art installations typically involve a lot of spectacle and are highly attractive to visitors. They bring people in, invite them to stay, and can turn a waiting space into a destination. Generative art can produce awe and wonder and provide an elevated, ethereal, guest experience. It could potentially offer many more benefits including helping guests understand their own internal biology while settling in a calm, relaxed, and stimulating space.
Why hotel brands and designers should consider integrating interactive and generative art installations
Over the last two years, our world has turned to digital experiences at exponential speed. No market has captured this transitional time period better than the art scene. During the heat of the recent pandemic, Hotel art collections became a more important element in luring the public to visit restaurants, bars, and other amenities. Even if a hotel could only operate at a percentage of occupancy, the artworks served to keep locals and tourists crossing the threshold.
Interactive art installations point to a new era and are testament to the continual evolution of art, technology and hotel design. Many artists and art professionals are transforming the art world by leveraging technology as an art and design medium, allowing them to create striking, immersive, and highly engaging art pieces that are new and multi-disciplinary installations. Though conventional mediums like painting and sculpture still account for a large part of the artistic work found in hotels, the interactive art installation genre is certainly growing and worthy of your attention.
Main image caption: ‘Melodic Memories’ by Refik Anadol. | Image Credit: Lumen Arts Prize