If you need a break from reality (let’s face it, most of us do), Prismajic unveiled it’s newest pop-up installation less than a block west of City Park, in the immersive arts company’s own studio space. Now through May 25, Denverites can wander through Shiki Dreams, which follows a spiritual guide through an immersive, virtual reality forest. Founded in 2012, Prismajic formed after its founders enjoyed creating ornate scenes for parties and events. The company debuted its first experience, Natura Obscura, last year and now continues to create magical, alternative realities with the help of dozens of artists.
Shiki Dreams plays off of the storyline from Natura Obscura. Those who visited last year’s exhibition may remember the Shiki—whose Japanese name translates to “four seasons”—as a yeti and guide through the Prismajic universe. Jennifer Mosquera, Prismajic’s head of design and chief creative, describes Shiki as their “Mickey Mouse,” or an ambassador for the magic of these installations.
Just like Natura Obscura, Shiki Dreams employs an app as a method of storytelling, guiding visitors through the installation and unveiling hidden messages. Throughout the five rooms, which span 1,200 square feet, users can unlock animations by holding their phones up to lanterns called tōrōs while music is played at 432 hertz, meant to soothe the nervous system.
After downloading the free interactive app and suiting up with headphones and a small blacklight, guests will enter a dim, hazy space scented with turmeric, juniper, and thyme. In the main room, eyes find a wood shed, which is made of an old fence, and a shimmering paper river flows before a painted woodlands mural—this is the Shiki’s home.
The complexities of each room are the result of more than 20 Colorado-based artists, according to Prismajic’s president Eric Jaenike. “There are 21 artists who’ve worked this: musicians, animators, graphic artists… a really broad array of different artistic talents and mediums.”
Guests are encouraged to wander freely through each room, which symbolize the four seasons of the year. One of the first rooms, which represents summer, is a luminescent white filled with intricate details and dioramas crafted by miniatures creator Cassie Raub. “When you work really small, you hide things so people slow down and take their time,” Mosquera says, as she herself is still finding little details Raub added, like lightning bugs made of light bulbs (pictured above). This room exhibits “an indulgent exploration of beauty,” according to Mosquera, and is meant to emulate the summer season with a button-operated thunderstorm accompanied by a waterfall—made from plastic—ending in a pond full of playful spirits.
In another room, guests will find stacks of boxes transformed into a cityscape made from recycled cardboard contributed by Mosquera and Jaenike’s community after the holiday season. This room represents spring. A tōrō’s animation shows the cardboard towers lifting into the sky with cartoon birds fluttering around.
While winter is the theme for the last room, a dragon—which can only be revealed through the press of a button—is the centerpiece of the space. When pressed, the walls are lit up by the red scales of the dragon’s tail, slowly uncovering the body and head. Constructed by local artist Kenyon Dellecave, this multidimensional piece is the essence of Shiki Dreams: using clever techniques to uncover works of art—big and small—that may typically go unnoticed.
“Prismajic’s mission is to harness the power of art to transform the ways people look at the world.” Here, Jaenike quotes Russian writer Emma Goldman: “‘A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having’ and we’re trying to foment a revolution about how people relate to themselves in the world. Shiki Dreams is the dance part of that.”
If you go: The installation is open now and will run through May 25. Tickets are $14. 2219 E. 21st Ave.