September 8 – Artechouse (ONP #251)

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Does virtual reality count as a New Place?  If so, I scored big tonight, as I made my first excursion into that realm.

I also scored pretty well in the brick-and-mortar New Places department, with this very cool museum, Artechouse (No, not “artichokes,” dear Autocorrect), and a whole new street in SW DC (Maryland Avenue), where Artechouse is located, about a 10-minute walk from the Washington DC Mall and the more conventional museums of the Smithsonian Institution.

Artechouse is the first museum in DC dedicated to digital, immersive art installations and yes, virtual reality art. It was a pretty far-out place, everything minimally designed in black and white. A guide takes you down a few flights of steps and ushers you into a large underground space with a sleek white bar overlooking a large projection room, the size of a two-car garage, strewn with bean bag chairs where you flop yourself down and let the art steer you into new places. It feels like you are on a spaceship flying and floating through whatever visions the artist has dreamed up. Another dark room has virtual reality headsets. Sit yourself down and float away, people. . .

They even have phone apps that enhance your “reality. If you point it at something (say the plain black and white Artechouse logo), it transforms into an enhanced, fancier logo on your screen.  

Which leads me to my favorite exchange of the evening, when a guide was telling us we could enjoy some “alternate reality” cocktails at the bar.

My friend “B” (nicely): What exactly is an alternate reality cocktail?

Me: (sarcastically): Isn’t that a little redundant?

Anyway, cool place. I plan to go back for future exhibits and take more friends.

Anybody else see a new place recently?