Temple of Light: A 360-Degree Sensorial Art Experience

By Sophie Steiner, December 27, 2021

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Temple of Light is an immersive digital art exhibition pioneer integrating the latest high-tech projection technology to recreate living paintings in gigantic scale.

Immersing the audience in a full 360-degree sensorial experience, deepening engagement with famous masterpieces, it serves to subvert the traditional static artworks viewing mode in museums, transforming the way people enjoy a spectrum of art. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Based in Shanghai, and with roots in Paris, we reached out to co-founders Jean Borie de Varine, Peng Li, Romain Sarfati, Robert Zheng and Arthur de Villepin to learn more about how Temple of Light aspires to democratize art and bridge Chinese culture with the world. 

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

Describe Temple of Light in a sentence.
Temple of Light is a cutting-edge, unforgettable immersive art experience for a new generation of art, culture and history lovers, transforming the way people enjoy both classic and contemporary art.

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

Walk us through what a visit to Temple of Light is like.
Visitors will first arrive on the banks of the Huangpu River in the North Bund area of Shanghai’s Hongkou District (near the W Shanghai – The Bund) with the iconic Lujiazui urban skyline as a backdrop. There, they will find a building made entirely of mirrors.

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

After entering this reflectively shimmering building, guests will find themselves in a dark hallway that leads to the main exhibition hall. Here is where they are transported into a futuristic setting while waiting for the show to start.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Once the show begins (at the top of each hour), visitors can experience two pieces: 'MUTATION' and 'UKIYO-E VISIONS,' the first of which is contemporary and the latter being more classical art.

Utilizing Epson’s latest 3LCD technology and Meyer Sound’s cutting-edge ULTRA-X20 spatialized sound system, the art experience is delivered as a revolutionary 4D, fully immersive experience, traveling through history and multiple cultures. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Danny Rose is the Paris-based design studio behind Temple of Light. Tell us more about what it has done in the past and the kinds of digital works we can expect from them. 
Danny Rose, creator of the exhibition and designer of the all-mirror building INSIDE, is a multidisciplinary art and design collective creating and realizing large scale digital artworks: immersive experiences, interactive installations and architectural art mapping.

They have developed a concept of sensory narration, based on new-age video projection technologies and sound spatialization to enhance a space and plunge the public into the heart of the experience, winning the top immersive art AEAF award in 2017 and 2018. 

In the past, they have brought both contemporary and classic works to life in Paris, Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo, as well as at the 2002 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony.

Going forward, we can expect more amazing immersive works from them based on artwork from across the world and across different time periods.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

What is the inspiration behind Temple of Light?
In a nutshell, we are hoping to revolutionize art and culture in Asia for a new generation of art lovers. Our main pillars are to:

  • Make art and culture more accessible, bringing traditional paintings that are physically located in other parts of the world closer to home.

  • Further strengthen the museum’s educational mission, inspiring a new generation to love art in a way that is engaging to them.

  • Promote Chinese art and culture and help share the great Chinese works to more in China and to the rest of the world.

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

There are multiple themes throughout the show. Can you explain these various themes and how they interplay and connect to create one sensorial experience? 
UKIYO-E VISIONS takes the audience on a contemplative journey into the masterpieces of Ukiyo-e prints from the 17th to 19th Century. We provide a glimpse of the great diversity, richness and modernity of these works and their authors (Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Kitagawa Utamaro, Utagawa Kunisada, Utagawa Hiroshige, etc.), integrating over 450 masterpieces into this exhibit.

MUTATION is a sensorial dive into the plastic and harmonious structures of matter, which – as their state changes – transform themselves, one after the other, in endless movement.

Throughout the show, we use natural transitions between scenes to create a connected storyline across many different art pieces.

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

How is Temple of Light different than other interactive digital art exhibitions like TeamLab Borderless?
TeamLab Borderless is a fantastic experience and has been a trailblazer for immersive art. Our hope is to contribute primarily through bringing timeless, original art to life, while also exhibiting some contemporary works. 

We believe the collision of culture and technology will bring more people into the art world. Temple of Light aspires to provide novel experiences and delight visitors, inspiring audiences with a new understanding of art.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

This is Temple of Light’s first installation in China. How will it continue to expand to other cities – and within Shanghai – in the future?
We hope to make art and culture more accessible in as many cities as we can, including potential expansion in Shanghai.

While we originally planned to have Temple of Light more as a pop-up running through the end of January, we are considering extending it due to overwhelming popularity.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image courtesy of Temple of Light

How can readers of That’s Shanghai book tickets to attend the show and experience this unique kind of immersive art? 
Follow our Official Temple of Light WeChat account by scanning the QR code below. From there, you can purchase tickets and select the date and time you'd prefer to attend. While we usually run shows every hour, on the hour, from 10am-10pm, because of current COVID restrictions, we are offering a reduced schedule, mostly with afternoon showtimes and a few extra morning showtimes on weekends.


See a listing for Temple of Light

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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