We visited friends of The Department, Stephen Dobbie and Colin Nightingale’s incredible Immersive Exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.
Beyond the Road takes the audience through an audiovisual journey of UNKLE albums: The Road Part I and The Road Part II/ Lost Highway.
The entire top floor of the Gallery has been used for this exhibit, giving the feeling that the producers of the movie Drive had interior designed a millionaire’s penthouse.
In the early stages of the experience, the level of interactivity is cleverly kept to a minimum. One of the perks of my job is that I get to attend many, “immersive experiences”. Many of said experiences provide a fleeting flicker of interactivity or multi-sensory engagement and whack the buzzword of immersive on it.
As I stared at the synthetic bust statue upon entering, I was afraid this was going to be one of “those experiences”. But then the eyes flickered. There are so many objects in here that you could walk past and presume are inanimate. You’d be very wrong!
Without giving it all away, the objects activation series scale up in their dystopian nature to the point that, the flicker of the eyes when walked past at the beginning of the exhibition had transformed into a writhing neck and shoulders when I walked back around.
The TV room displaying clips from the Getty drama Trust, spasmed in colour from salmon to storm cloud purple. The mirror showing a small whirring light eventually plays out a beautiful holographic dancer’s routine inlaid in the glass.
My favourite room was actually a corridor displaying projections of a hospital corridor on both walls. At first, it seems mundane, but upon passing back through, the scenes playing out across the walls became more distorted and chaotic.
My friend’s favourite room was the dining room with a table covered entirely with wax including a wax-covered candelabra and an intricate waxwork gin bottle. As the neon lights changed overhead, the room changed colour to reveal an entirely different environment. The biggest difference was the oil painting on the wall.
The visual impact was reinforced by Unkle’s music merging between the rooms. Lyrics scrawled in neon in one room were repeated when you lifted the telephone receiver in the next. “On my knees” gave the visual stimuli a different dimension. “The Road” rang out metronomously.
All in all, a thoughtfully curated experience. If you visit Beyond the Road and get to the end, do yourself a favour, turn around and walk through an entirely different exhibit.