Aaron Dail Interview w Fanny Curtat, June 21, re “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,”

In the “Crows” segment Akira Kurosawa’s 1990 film Dreams, Akira Terao portrays an art student. The student views the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh one minute, and the next he steps inside the canvas, into the worlds Van Gogh rendered. He finds the artist, played by Martin Scorsese, and learns from him his extreme dedication to his work: That he’s forever chasing the sun, that he drives himself “like a locomotive,” and that he had a problem with getting his left ear just so for his Self-Portrait, so he did what any reasonable person would do — he hacked it off. At last, Van Gogh tires of this exchange, and tells the student he has to get whatever light the sun has left to give, and leaves. The student then gets lost within a number of Van Gogh’s works, wandering through them, around them, trying to find Van Gogh. Suddenly, a murder of crows fills the screen (c/o George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic visual-effects group), and the student finds himself back in the museum, looking at one of Van Gogh’s last works, Wheatfield with Crows, before he killed himself in 1890. The sound of a locomotive roars off in the distance. The student takes his cap off in silent tribute.

We’re still a long way off from doing anything like that. The technology simply isn’t there — not yet, anyway. What is here, and what is just as good as enough, is the “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exhibit, on display at the River Center in Davenport through July 20. Aaron Dail speaks with Fanny Curtat, one of the people who, along with Paquin Entertainment Group and Montmartre Studio of Montreal, transplanted the works of Van Gogh into full-scale replicas in which audiences can wander around like that student in Kurosawa’s film. Dail and Curtat agree that such environments are rife with creative possibilities, especially for kids who might otherwise be averse to the traditional museum experience. Go to vangoghquadcities.com for more details.