In the massive 21st-century digital art workshop Teknopolis, you’re the star. The pop-up interactive gallery takes over four floors of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Fisher Building, bringing cutting-edge immersive experiences all about exploring your artistic side — even if you don’t think you have one.

“They’re getting people to dance, to create visual art, to create film, to make music, to immerse themselves in theatrical moments — it’s exactly counter to the conception that technology keeps us static,” says festival curator Steven McIntosh, who’s also director of education and family programs at BAM.

“Teknopolis is all about play, activating the artistry that’s latent in all of us, especially in adults who may not have much opportunity in their daily lives to play and explore.”

brooklyn academy of music BAM arts virtual reality arcade teknopolis

 

What's inside Teknopolis at BAM?

Experiences range widely, and are meant to be enjoyed in two-hour sessions (tickets are timed so the exhibit never gets too crowded). Among the projects is a group experience called VR_I by Swiss artist Gilles Jobin where you may play as a different gender, ethnicity or race while performing a contemporary work alongside 80-foot-tall dancers. 

Others include building a pillow fort made of stars inside Cabbibo’s L U N E, painting with light in Reflection Studies, immersing yourself in 360-degree virtual movies about the performing arts, and making an ongoing “song” using the sounds of people who came before you from finger snaps to words at Geometric Music.

The galleries themselves are designed with pockets of semi-private space to let you really feel free to use your body, and McIntosh chose experiences that allow creativity without the pressure of “getting it right.”

brooklyn academy of music BAM arts virtual reality arcade teknopolis

Launched four years ago, Teknopolis was inspired by the technology that artists were using on BAM’s stages to push the boundaries of theater, dance and music. “But this was largely experienced by our audiences from the seats,” says McIntosh. 

“What Teknopolis enables us to do is take all this new media, interactive tech and instead of putting it onstage, we put it around our building and let our audience be the artists by interacting with it.”

Teknopolis was originally curated for kids, but this year has grown to include evening sessions and an expanded virtual reality area. “What we found with creative tech is, adults and young people are on similar planes,” says McIntosh. Teknopolis also a great date night idea, since shared activities are more meaningful for building relationships.

And even if you don’t think you have a creative side, exploring it can only help. “This type of experience gives people the space to defy the conventions within themselves of what’s possible,” he says. 

“The internet is having a big impact on our lives, and I think the question is how we stay creative and not lose our ability as human beings to express ourselves.”

Teknopolis is open Thurs-Sun now through March 10 at 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn. Tickets start at $21 for adults and $16 for kids up to 14, or $35/$$45 with access to the virtual reality gallery, bam.org

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