Photo: Trent Johnson
Photo: Trent Johnson

ARTECHOUSE Provides Home for Digital Art

What museums are to preservation, ARTECHOUSE is to exploration. The new art gallery, dedicated to housing art created with technology, opened its doors to the public in southwest DC, a short walk from L’enfant Metro Station, on June 1. The innovative gallery features works by different artists, all of whom rely on technology as their medium. The current exhibition, XYZT: Abstract Landscapes, is the work of French artists Adrien M. and Claire B.

With 10 installations, nine interactive, ARTECHOUSE is noticeably different than what comes to mind when you think of traditional art. Rather than untouchable paintings on a pristine white wall, moving images react to each person who stops to explore. Instead of muted conversation at a socially acceptable decibel, the gallery is full of the exhibition’s sound effects and the voices of patrons trying to figure each installation out. ARTECHOUSE is kept dark, so the projections of XYZT are easily visible, and at the end of each piece, there seems to be another unexplored corner.

In addition to providing endless entertainment, interacting with exhibits introduces a slew of benefits. ARTECHOUSE cofounders Tati Pastukhova and Sandro Kereselidze, who are no strangers to contemporary art or the DC art scene, understand the value of interacting physically with art.

“We’ve learned that people would connect to the art when the artist would be there to explain to them, to bring them into their world,” Pastukhova says. “With the possibilities of technology and digital art, there’s less need for that. You can connect to the art much easier and you can understand it better. I think that’s the biggest thing that you can gain, is really to be able to immerse the person, to get them to explore the art and connect to it.”

But ARTECHOUSE bridges more divides than the one between artist and audience. Many people live under the impression that art and technology are two irreconcilable poles, one ruled by emotion and the other by logic. Here, one has no place without the other.

“It’s very important for [people] in the field of technology to work with the creatives to create something very unique,” Kereselidze says. “That’s what our vision with this space is, to kind of incubate, and to be the space where the creatives and technologists come together and do something really amazing, [and produce] new creations for the public to experience, like what we see today.”

Although ARTECHOUSE resembles a gallery from the future, many of the installations are reminiscent of familiar experiences: walking through grass, playing with sand, manipulating bubbles in a bath. In the uncharted territory of electronic art, XYZT relies on familiar sensory memories to connect with the audience.

“As humans, sometimes it’s really hard for us to connect to a 2D visual piece,” Pastukhova says. “I think performance art and film are [easier to comprehend] to us. But with technology, we’re able to connect to the visual art as well. You’ll see with XYZT, it brings out the emotions, it lets you be a part of the creative process, it lets you understand it better.”

So, whether you’re an art buff, a tech nerd or just searching for something other than a sanitized museum, ARTECHOUSE delivers captivating installations waiting to be explored. Tickets are $10-$15 and can be purchased from www.artechouse.com.

ARTECHOUSE: 1238 Maryland Ave. SW, DC; www.artechouse.com

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Reem Nadeem

Reem is a Cairo-DC transplant, teacher and journalist. She has a B.A. in English from George Mason University. If she isn’t writing, teaching or staring longingly into the cat shelter next to On Tap’s office, she probably has her nose in a book.