The California- based Laiken Neumann company brought Wonderspaces to Austin in 2020, four years after its inception. The immersive art experience, where the audience gets right up close to the art for an hour and a half of inspiring touchy-feeliness, is a must-see for families, children, adults, and just about anyone; thrill seekers, art lovers, and those who haven’t stepped foot into a gallery will all feel a thrill. I first went in 2020 at the opening, and It was a perfect getaway from the heaviness of the confusion about the pandemic. This third exhibit left me with the same childlike wonderment as the first.
Every exhibit runs for a few months, and many installations are permanent. I’m still engaged, even after seeing them once or, in my case, twice. Upon entering, I skipped the exhibits upfront (waiting to do those at the end of the tour) and ran right into the colored hanging lightbulbs. That permanent installation feels like one is walking into a Yayoi Kusama room. No matter how long one stares at the Electronically generated patterns of fluttering purple to red to orange, yellow, green, blue, and white, it feels like s a meditation.
While a friend of mine sat for twenty minutes at the digital sketcher whose three individual arms did an automatic portrait, I putzed around the colored lights. The digital drawing was primarily accurate; she has a mop of curly short hair, which could’ve been why her countenance didn’t resemble her. The pictures hung on the wall were detailed, but only the owner of their face could judge the similarity to themselves.
A group of Singer sewing machines “sang” a sewing tune as you walked by each device. All I could think about was women slaving away in sweatshops in Chinatown in New York City, children in India and Bangladesh, and American inmates. The workers certainly did not ‘whistle while they worked.’ It shows you where my mind goes to!
Back to the art, we found a wall with instructions and rules on using the colored rolls of tape available to the public to design a shape. Of course, being the rebels that we are, my friend and I did precisely the opposite of the stated rules. We made circles, bent the tape, created shapes within shapes, and let our imaginations fly. Taking some steps back from the wall, it looked like more than 50% of the tapes were in straight lines, following the rules. Then again, my judgment may need to be scientifically proven.
There is a VR room with an ongoing story, like a TV series. I’d seen it before, and this third visit tried to get the headset on the right way, but the tissue for my eyes that is supposed to protect you from “germs” kept falling off, blurring my vision, so I just stopped midstream.
The exhibit BLOOMS by John Edmark mesmerizes 3-D printed sculptures that appear to move independently as they rotate on platforms that turn 137.5 degrees, the angular version of the golden ratio. 3D-printed sculptures are animated when spun under a strobe light. The rotational speed and the strobe light frequency are synchronized so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5 degrees, the golden ratio’s angular version.
Other exhibits are not mentioned here as I don’t want to spoil the fun and shock. Get tickets at https://austin.wonderspaces.com/ for your family, friends, and colleagues.