When you look at Artechouse's cocktail menu through your phone, words and images might leap off the page and swirl around. The exhibition around you could be visible inside your drink. It might even look like someone else is taking a sip.
That's the plan for the interactive art space's upcoming augmented reality cocktail experience, opening Sept. 20 along with its new exhibitions, founder Sandro Kereselidze said. People already have their phones out for the space's super-Instagrammable first exhibition, “XYZT,” which closes Sept. 3. Now, their phones will become a critical part of their visit — it's how they'll view part of the exhibition.
It's a little like Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game that everyone seemingly went crazy over last summer — or that little dancing Snapchat hot dog that's all over the place these days. Using an Artechouse app, guests will hover over certain images or words in the space — including their drinks — and get a visual surprise, designed by the Artechouse team. During a preview, Kereselidze let his phone linger over a page of bold-lettered text. After a few seconds, the letters changed colors, rose off the page and swirled together like an alphabet soup.
The gallery will also unveil a new immersive projection system encompassing the gallery's main room with customized sound and light displays. Kereselidze said he's “itching” to give it a try. “This month will give us an opportunity to use it as a playground, to play with different types of environments, different types of experiences, visualizations,” he said.
One of them, “Spirit of Autumn,” also designed by Artechouse's staff, will highlight one of the best things about the season: falling leaves, making it a perfect environment for those who can't get enough of all things pumpkin spice and plaid. Guests will draw and color in a leaf on a sheet of paper, scan it and watch it appear in the installation, along with everyone else's leaves, which they can fling around. The theme will change with the seasons — maybe snowflakes or ornaments for winter, or flowers for spring, Kereselidze said.
Artechouse is also bringing in Sila Sveta, the multimedia creative team behind this year's light installations at the Met Gala honoring Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons. It won't be the same exhibit that Katy Perry, Solange, Anna Wintour and other celebrities posed in, and Kereselidze was tight-lipped on how exactly this part of the exhibition would take shape, but he did say it would be based on the theme of “celebration.”
Artechouse is also planning to host music and dance events that tie in to the visuals, potentially with food events, too. Future culinary pop-ups in the space could take advantage of the technology, transporting guests through the projections. They can create any environment they desire, Kereselidze said.
If the culinary pop-ups are done well, they'd follow in the footsteps of Sublimotion, one of the most expensive restaurants in the world. The Ibiza restaurant, which costs about $2,000 a person and only seats 12 people at a time, has interactive projections on the walls and tables that change with every course.
Kereselidze said his space is all about combining “the creativity of artists with the creativity of technologists,” he said.
People “don't want to be passive viewers any more.”
Artechouse, 1238 Maryland Ave SW. $10-$15 during the day, $25 at night.