With a new season comes a new ARTECHOUSE exhibition. D.C.’s tech based gallery thrives on using technology to manipulate an audience’s connection to art, while pushing our artistic boundaries in the process. Sakura Yume is no different. Although the main gallery space is more of a sequel to their family friendly Spirit of Autumn and Imaginary World of The Nutcracker exhibitions than the wild Kingdom of Colors or Parallel Universe, the ARTECHOUSE team has something special up their sleeves. For the first time, they’re debuting an immersive dinner with an interactive table much better than any place setting you’ve ever seen. Something that manages to indulge (almost) all of your senses.
ARTECHOUSE’s dinner is hard to describe, photos and videos do it so much more justice, but it sort of feels like eating dinner in Terry Gilliam’s version of the future. There’s no parallels to the desolate wasteland of 12 Monkeys, or the bureaucratic nightmare of Brazil, but it captures a dreamlike kookiness found so often in his films. It’s definitely futuristic, but the cutting edge aspect of the technology is tempered with antique imagery, like classical Japanese depictions of cherry blossom trees, koi fish and more. It’s a delightful combination of old meets new and it’s so damn calming. Not all of the projections are interactive (some serve more as abstract stories) but the projections that you can manipulate are downright soothing to watch. I’ve never been more distracted at the dinner table in my life.
Similarly, Sakura Yume is a calming, meditative exhibition. All of the walls are responsive, so you have the option to sit down and zone out as you watch cherry blossoms fall like rain around you, or you can strike a pose and send them flying. Wander into the room on the right and you’re met with an interactive koi pond, or go down the hallway on the left to find a series of red lanterns that light up as you walk down the hall. Like all things ARTECHOUSE, it feels as if you’ve been transported to a magical dreamlike realm.
Of course, the AR cocktails you know and love are back. The Tidal Basin, our favorite of the bunch, transforms a coaster into a bustling city block (as long as you use the ARTECHOUSE app), but it’s also a delicious drink with a combination of shochu, ginger, balsamic vinegar and a rosemary foam that we wish we could put on everything (plus some grapefruit juice, lemon and tonic thrown in for good measure).
Every visit to ARTECHOUSE is a treat, walking down those stairs feels like going on vacation in your own imagination (and not in a lame way). The dinners, which kickoff March 15, add another delightful route for you to interact with the art, and that’s always what ARTECHOUSE does best.
ARTECHOUSE is located at 1238 Maryland Ave SW. Sakura Yume is on display from March 15 – May 6. Daytime admission (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) is all ages. Evening admission (5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.) are 21+.
Words by Kaylee Dugan, Photos by Clarissa Villondo