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  • Charlotte Chapple

Caravaggio Experience

Caravaggio Experience

An Immersive Exhibition in Desenzano Castle

My recent holiday in Lake Garda, Italy, was amazing. I had such a great time exploring the town of Desenzano that my parents and I were staying in and indulged in all the amazing Italian cuisine. One of my favourite experiences during the week long trip happened on the second day of our stay when we visited the Caravaggio Experience held at the Castello di Desenzano (Desenzano Castle).

The immersive experience was an exploratory journey that unveils the techniques, themes and secrets of one of the greatest innovators in the history of art. When walking through the exhibition visitors were given the opportunity to become part of one of Caravaggio’s paintings. The castles corridors held many small installations where various objects were set up similarly to how Caravaggio would have placed them for his paintings. This brought his work alive and into an interactive 3D layout that set the scene for the final spectacular installation. When walking through the various smaller segments I got the opportunity to stand in front of a projection that displayed various pieces of the artists work. When doing so I became immersed in the setting of the paintings, either as a clear subject or more obscured and hidden in the projection.

At the end of the experience, there was a spectacular video installation that surrounded the audience with works by Michelangelo Merisi. Various projections displayed pieces of artwork across smooth canvas walls, set up particularly for the display, on the floor and across the more rugged stone walls of the castle. I found this part of the experience very appealing as it allowed me to view the work from an aesthetic point of view, but also from an emotional and sensorial one. The sensorial feelings were heightened by the relevant and contextual sound affects that were played when the artwork was shown, creating a very intriguing and immersive atmosphere. One thing I particularly liked about this video installation was how the continuous flow of images brought the artworks back to life, making them come out of their traditional frames. The video installation was divided into sections, each of which investigated a "Caravaggesque" theme: from his studies on the effects of light, to the analysis of compositional processes, passing through the representation of nature and violence up to a virtual tour in the places of the painter's life. I also had a bit of fun taking some silhouette photos of my own shadow cast on the walls by the projected light.

Visiting the Caravaggio Experience definitely gave me a new-found appreciation for the artist work, which before visiting I had always found rather bland and un-interesting. The way the work was displayed and the varied installations also opened my eyes to the many ways still, 2D images can become 3D and immersive. This inspired me to consider a broader range of ways to exhibit my own work and to think outside the box to make any future exhibitions of my work as intriguing and immersive as possible.

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