Miracle or technology?
Avant garde Austin studios celebrate the holidays with immersive pop-up world
The Illumaverse, a multisensory art exhibit ripe for exploration, is launching for the first time on December 8, and will run through December 30 in East Austin's DadaLab (stylized dadaLab). The space may fly under the many locals' radars, but among those who value underground art, it is one of the city's most powerful creative staples.
DadaLab, known for year-round immersive art, teams up with creative development organization Nelda Studios to transform a 6,000-square-foot space into a multi-room holiday extravaganza promising "vibrant celebrations across distant cosmoses" in a release. These alien celebrations will still touch on the themes we expect once the longest nights of the year roll around, whatever a guest's religious affiliation is: "unity, joy, and reflection."
It'll take 45 minutes to an hour to explore, organizers estimate. The imaginative renovations come from the minds of both DadaLab and Nelda staff, as well as digital fabrication professor at the University of Texas at Austin J.E. Johnson. The professor gets support from his own team at the Texas Performing Arts Fabrication Studios at UT.
Past installations show off the scale that dadaLab is capable of.Photo courtesy of dadaLab
“When we opened our new space earlier this year, we knew that we had to do something for the holidays," said DadaLab co-founder Kyle Evans in the release, referring to a hail-Mary scramble last year that saw the prior studio space demolished for incoming apartments, and a new space announced just weeks later.
He continued, "We’re excited to work alongside the Nelda Studios team and many of our artist friends to bring that vision to life. Visitors can expect a unique experience that combines immersive sound, light, art, and interactive technology, welcoming them into an otherworldly environment that reimagines Earth's holiday traditions with a whimsical and futuristic interpretation."
The creatives in charge describe the opening minutes of the experience, but most remains a mystery: First, “Portal into the Illumaverse,” covers both sides of the entry hallway with more than 25 screens, for an audiovisual reset upon first seeing the space. Those will set the tone with "familiar memories and nostalgic representations of holiday traditions."
As the name would suggest, this liminal space serves to remove visitors from Austin, specifically, and drop them into a whimsical new space. But the event creators keep their place in the greater community in mind.
“Austin is filled with incredible holiday experiences, and we are thrilled to create an otherworldly kind of holiday tradition with Illumaverse," said Nelda studios Nelda Buckman. "We brought together [these] creative minds ... to build a truly unique and unifying holiday experience for all."
Another past exhibit showcases the abstract nature of some installations.Photo courtesy of dadaLab
The studios intend to bring this exhibit back as an annual tradition.
Although the Illumaverse welcomes explorers of all ages, those aged 17 and under will need to be accompanied by an adult. And since holiday experiences aren't really complete without some festive snacks, there will be themed food and beverage concessions at the end of the tour, including wine, cocktails, and beer.
Tickets ($25 for adults, $15 for kids ages, plus some discounts) are available now at illumaverse.com. Tickets will be available at the door, but there will likely be a wait. Tours will be open from December 8-30 on Fridays (6-11 pm), Saturdays (11 am to 11 pm), and Sundays (1-10 pm).