Where art is performed digitally
11/10/2023 1:34:47 PM
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 Inside the digital art space Songlab with works displayed using modern technology. Photo: X. LOC
Considered the first digital art space in Vietnam, Songlab (Ba Trieu Street, Hue City) is a place where art lovers can enjoy massive works that artists used technology for experiencing performance. In this space, people seem to be immersed in a colorful artistic world of modern technology.
Inside the digital art space Songlab with works displayed using modern technology. Photo: X. LOC

After more than 5 years of nurturing and nearly 2 years of preparation, the Songlab space located in a 4-story building with an area of up to 1,000 square meters was officially put into operation, welcoming visitors in the last days of October.

Art on diverse technology platforms

“All works in this Songlab digital space are viewed through the artist's creative lens. Artists do not try to reproduce culture and heritage, but these materials have become fanciful and surreal," said Mr. Duong Do - founder and director of Songlab.

Mr. Duong Do said that 5 years ago he envisioned a special space, invested in state-of-the-art machinery and equipment to serve the function of connecting creative people in many different fields. In this space, artists can freely experiment and use technology to demonstrate their works.

After a lot of hesitation and thorough research, Mr. Duong Do and his colleagues chose Hue to locate the Songlab space right in a central area of an urban area famous for its rich cultural heritage. Inside this, the space is divided into many large rooms; some rooms only show art works on the screen, some rooms combine with installation art, some rooms have immersive art, some rooms create interactive art, etc. On the platform with such diverse technology, artists in many different fields such as traditional painting, music, sculpture, contemporary dance, etc., will find out the suitability for their language. Technically speaking, the project cooperates with the leading 3D mapping projection equipment supplier in Southeast Asia.

In this launch, Songlab brings viewers into a world that is both real and virtual, which not only is vivid in color but also creates a warm feeling when standing among those works. And, the cultural element of Hue heritage will certainly be in the creative ideas of participating artists.

Viewers will see a 3D graphic film presented with sound called "Dam choi nay loc" by Nguyen Ngoc Quy. The author was inspired by the diversity of life in general and Hue cultural heritage in particular to create an extremely unique digital flower forest. Viewers will see "surreal" flowers, both familiar and strange, molded from native materials such as silk, ceramic, bamboo, etc. This special flower forest is a metaphor for the parallel existence of unique and beautiful things in our society. We accept and enjoy differences because we are all equal and because it is a fact of life.

Enjoy being open to differences

Not far away, in another room, viewers will encounter "Moi Mien Tiem Thuc" by Cuong Nguyen. With extremely familiar images of Hue such as mausoleums, markets, street vendors, etc., the artist scanned in 3D and then recreated them in a stereoscopic graphic environment. From one scene to another, taking viewers on a journey into a "memory universe" that is half real, half dream, typical of Hue.

Mr. Duong Do said, art is a means to change thinking, helps us have a multi-dimensional view of things and open our hearts to differences in life. Among the many viewers, there will be people who like and dislike the representation of indigenous culture at Songlab. "But when artists create with positive desires, we should also open our hearts to things that sometimes do not match our thoughts," he said.

According to Dr. Phan Le Chung, Chairman of the Council of the University of Arts (Hue University), Songlab space is a very meaningful project for the art-loving community nationwide in general and for Hue in particular. It is expected that in the near future, the school will have many cooperation programs with Songlab such as coordinating to organize international cultural exchange programs, implementing thematic workshops or community programs, organizing talk programs about contemporary art, or other topics from domestic and international speakers.

In addition, the two parties will coordinate to display the school's training products according to topics such as fashion, media, graphic design, contemporary art (video art, installation, photography), etc.

Digital exhibitions can make many people skeptical

Songlab representative said that in the world there have been many digital art exhibitions attracting millions of viewers. Even neighboring Singapore also had a famous Van Gogh exhibition in June 2023. In our country, digital exhibitions can make many people skeptical. Firstly, most people do not have access to contemporary art. Second, investing in a digital art space requires large scale and investment capital, we don’t know whether Vietnamese people have the ability to experience it or not.