ARTECHOUSE DC – Beyond the Light
Mind. Blown. That is all. We visited ARTECHOUSE in DC this week to see Beyond the Light and it was a wonderful experience. An immersive art experience with interactive exhibits with an emphasis on showcasing NASA’s data collection and visualization.
Beyond the Light, an original artistic expression of scientific discoveries, is the story of how human innovation has enabled us to see beyond our imaginations and into the furthest reaches of the cosmos.
ARTECHOUSE worked in collaboration with NASA scientists to interpret the frontier-pushing data NASA collects about our universe, then brought it to life in the highest resolution possible utilizing today’s latest creative technologies and experiential storytelling. The exhibition submerges you into the timeless story of light and aims to inspire your curiosity for what else is possible.
Going beyond a tour of familiar imagery, this immersive art experience was developed with the latest technologies, including AI-aided visual production, an original musical score created from galactic data, and stunning imagery and findings from the James Webb Space Telescope.—ARTECHOUSE
I wasn’t sure what to expect, and had looked at the website, but didn’t go in depth on reviews and articles because this felt like the kind of thing you wanted to just experience for yourself.
We had timed passes and got there a little early, but they didn’t seem to bothered by it. I notice their website has both timed passes and “Show up anytime!” passes that cost a little bit more. But it was an easy enough 10-minute walk from L’Enfant Plaza, down near Maryland Avenue Linear Park (I had no idea that little circle even had a name) where you can get a tiny glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument just peeking up over buildings, and the Capitol dome.
The attendant walked us through the do’s and don’ts of the exhibit and we were off. Down a few flights of stairs, where you can just start to hear the soundtrack, then walking into the main exhibit room, which is just breathtaking. A near full room projection, walls and floor, of a looping short film giving you the impression of sort of being the center viewpoint, but not a huge feeling of “movement” so hopefully it won’t trigger anyone’s motion sickness.
There was one bench area, but they also provided cushions so we could sit anywhere on the floor we liked. No restrictions on walking around, standing in the middle, though if you’re hoping to get cleaner video footage, I’d choose the first booking of the day to visit so there won’t be too many people in your shot.
The exhibition centers on a 26-minute gorgeous cinematic journey, chronicling how we have observed and experienced light throughout history. With the exquisite universe as its backdrop, you will experience the importance of light in our pursuit of knowledge and the evolution of technology, ranging from Newton’s prism design, to the digital age, to the most recent discoveries of the James Webb Space Telescope, and finally to the possibilities of what is to come.
Experience six supporting installations that explore the moon, heliophysics, climate science, earth data, and NASA Spinoffs. Discover the impact that a Carrington Event would have on our society, discover Mars Rovers’ dreams created through AI, and learn the connection between NASA’s aerospace engineering developments and tools we use in our everyday lives.—ARTECHOUSE
After the main exhibit, we wandered through the additional installations where I’ll admit, I got a little bit jealous of the data visualization on hand. From interactive exhibits that showed internet infrastructure, global power use and airline traffic, to walking past the layers of the sun and getting data beneath your feet, playing with the wavelengths of elements, and even using an old-school joystick and buttons to select data cartridges with information on how NASA’s discoveries have influenced other sectors, including consumer goods.
I confess that one of my favorite moments was seeing the Pillars of Creation show up a few times in the room-encompassing video. Even though it has an unfortunate name, the James Webb Space Telescope images have been amazing. Just the idea of going from, “It’s a bit fuzzy, but that’s what out there,” to “We have the data, and we have the clarity,” is fantastic.
I’m curious what the next ARTECHOUSE exhibit will be and after this visit, we pondered getting the annual pass since it pays for itself with unlimited anytime visits and the bring-a-friend discount for plus one’s. I’ll also have to remember that they’re in New York if I’m ever up there again with some extra time on my hands.
But based on this visit, I’ve already scheduled another to take some friends who will be visiting from out of town, and even though it’s here through mid-December, I’m glad we caught it. The thing about living near so museums is that you get a little complacent that there will always be something interesting to see. Because there is! But you also have to remember to make time to see it.