Travelogue
Travelogue
WNDR Museum: Chicago's futuristic world of fantasy, colour and immersive art

By Sujoy Dhar | @notintownlive | 08 Jul 2024, 10:26 am

WNDR Museum: Chicago's futuristic world of fantasy, colour and immersive art WNDR Chicago

If your colourful, sometimes wacky, sometimes artsy Instagram posts are modern-day trophies, then this museum in Chicago's West Loop is for you. 

Billed as a venue for the curious in you, WNDR is Chicago’s original immersive art experience where nonplus, stimulation and surprises await you at every step. Blending art and science with playfulness, WNDR is an invitation to a walk-through in a permanent pop-up museum.

WNDR is located in the West Loop of Chicago. Photo courtesy: WNDR FBWNDR is located in the West Loop of Chicago. Photo courtesy: WNDR FB

"The more curious you feel, the more fun you’ll have," says the WNDR promoting itself. Well, you actually might feel it is true as you take a fun tour of WNDR's interactive experience combining a multi-sensory showcase of art and technology.

The WNDR message is simple: "We are all artists. And as artists, our visitors are more than passive onlookers. Whatever they do in our museum, is art."

So at WNDR you can actually destroy an idol without actually vandalising it in a Paris museum like some anti-oil activists. Just run your hand and you can be an iconoclast erasing digital images of Monalisa and more such timeless superstars.

 At WNDR you can actually destroy the timeless superstars of history by waving your hands. Photo: Sujoy Dhar At WNDR you can actually destroy the timeless superstars of history by waving your hands. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

WNDR Museum actually disrupts and redefines the traditional museum experience by inviting guests to fully engage with artworks and multi-sensory installations created by cutting edge artists, collectives, technologists, designers and makers.

As guests travel through WNDR Museum, they experience a multi-dimensional journey. A visitor becomes an extension of each creator by interacting with various installations and digital exhibits.

I had the biggest fun at the hi-tech WNDR light floor, which is made of hundreds of motion sensored LED panels.

Enjoy the hi-tech WNDR light floor made of hundreds of motion sensored LED panels. Photo: Sujoy DharEnjoy the hi-tech WNDR light floor made of hundreds of motion sensored LED panels. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

 

Enjoy the hi-tech WNDR light floor made of hundreds of motion sensored LED panels. Photo: Sujoy DharEnjoy the hi-tech WNDR light floor made of hundreds of motion sensored LED panels. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

The panels are divided into a quadrant, and allow the animations to move in different directions depending on what quadrant is activated.

The graphics are set to be dormant when no motion is detected, but as soon as movement is detected that activation site becomes magnetized for the graphics. This is why a visitor sees the “rushing” effect of the animations.

Leave a note of your thoughts at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy DharLeave a note of your thoughts at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

The tailored active floor content is brought to the museum by BrightLogic Inc.,  the industry’s leading LED floor experts known for its signature interactive service and product, the ActiveFloor System.

The Light Floor is the biggest showstopper of WNDR. Most people think that it works using motion sensors, but the floor is made up of thousands of optical sensors, according to the museum website.

What awed me after setting foot into this challenging  museum are the strings of 0s and 1s hanging like curtains in bright red surrounded by psychedelic lighting.

The rise of computers and advancements in technologies have created a digital society operating from a combination of two binary numbers: 0s and 1s. This artspace of the museum celebrates it.

The strings of 0s and 1s hanging like curtains in bright red creates a psychedelic artspace. Photo: Sujoy DharThe strings of 0s and 1s hanging like curtains in bright red creates a psychedelic artspace. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

According to the museum, the 1’s and 0’s  represent the intersection of digital and analogue, where art and technology come together. The 1’s and 0’s represent binary code which, of course, makes up all things digital.

The classic Ames room optical illusion at WNDR highlights how even slightly distorting your point of view can completely throw your perspective for a loop, making you question the reality of what you’re seeing. The Ames room is one of the few exhibits at WNDR Museum that does not require any tech.

The optical illusion of the classic Ames room at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy DharThe optical illusion of the classic Ames room at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

“Colorwave” at WNDR is another interactive artwork that responds to text messages. Glowing slices of color, derived from the texts, coalesce into a double edged wave.

10 prism-shaped LED digital displays on the wall of a gallery are awash with colorful animations. At any one time, wave-like shapes are moving across all of the displays. Instructional signage will explain the installation and display a phone number, instructing visitors to text a phrase or photo to the artwork.

FLUX ROOM at WNDR is a multi-sensory immersive experience set in an infinitely shifting futurescape. Through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, artist Santiago X has generated an experiential work that stimulates our perpetual concepts of memory and futurity. 

WNDRWNDR's puzzling digital installations challenge your mind. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

Everything in the room is 100% AI– the visuals, the audio, the wind machines offering a meditative experience.

During my visit to WNDR I was lucky to experience the polka dots world of Yayoi Kusama, the celebrated 94-year-old Japanese artist whose work is on display now.

Often known as the “princess of polka dots,” at WNDR you have the chance to experience the yellow universe of infinite black spots created by her.

Venture into the yellow universe of nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known as the “princess of polka dots,” at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy DharVenture into the yellow universe of nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known as the “princess of polka dots,” at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

Venture into the yellow universe of nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known as the “princess of polka dots,” at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy DharVenture into the yellow universe of nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known as the “princess of polka dots,” at WNDR. Photo: Sujoy Dhar

Yayoi Kusama is a nonagenarian Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, and is also active in painting, performance, video art, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts.

One of the most important living artists to come out of Japan, her show at WNDR takes you to the vibrant and hypnotizing installations world as you wade into the mesmerizing infinity rooms of playful polka dot pumpkins. Her art is an invitation to escape into a world of fantasy, color, and infinite possibility.

So step into Kusama’s dazzling universe and experience the awe-inspiring beauty of her art firsthand. 

All visitors who wander are lost in a parallel immersive futuristic world at WNDR. Do not miss it, just wander and wonder.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sujoy Dhar (@sujoydhar1)

 

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