Art historians often see American artist Bill Viola as one of the precursors of artistic immersion, who, by means of engaging artistic devices and scenographic and spatial strategies, has over time transported visitors into vivid universes where they could revisit their senses. Viola’s profound examination of the universal themes of life and death—concepts that were included in his solo exhibition “Naissance à rebours” as part of DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art’s (now Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art) 10th anniversary celebration in 2017–18—encapsulates the challenge faced by contemporary scenography as art galleries, art centres and museums are called upon to revisit how audiences experience art.
More and more, to fulfill this need, we explore unique approaches that surround audiences with a total perspective as they journey through emotions prompted by the conjunction of artwork, scenography and space. By translating the conceptual content of the artwork into a three-dimensional narrative space—with media that brings together different languages of representation and sensations—scenography has gradually become more interactive and participatory, but also more ambitious. Art, either experienced directly by the viewer or through extended reality (XR), which we explore at PHI, now immerses the audience in a way that overturns the traditional relationship between art object, artist and viewer.