After a successful run of Natura Obscura last year — artist duo Prismajic has brought yet another immersive art experience to Denver. Shiki Dreams is an installation created not just by Eric Jaenike and Jennifer Mosquera of Prismajic — but also by 25 other local artists. Now located right next to City Park, the exhibit follows the dreams of the yeti creature, Shiki. Visitors are treated to what can only be described as a surreal experience that combines all of the senses.
Immersive art remains a fairly new concept in the local art scene. While popular exhibitions such as Meow Wolf and Sleep No More have brought immersive art into the public eye for roughly a decade — Jaenike and Mosquera have been drawing up the concept of Natura Obscura and Shiki Dreams since 2012.
“This is the first pitch of the first inning of immersive art,” Jaenike said. “It is exploding in a variety of different directions. Everything from VR gaming to fine art, there are so many experiences people can have.”
The artists of Prismajic insist that Shiki Dreams is an experience everyone can enjoy. Visitors of all backgrounds are sure to be in awe of their surroundings.
“You don’t have to know great artists of the past for this,” Mosquera said. “You just need a sense of curiosity and wonder and also want to have a little bit of fun.”
The experience starts outside in a quaint trailer — where visitors are taught the technology behind the installation and given basic instructions on exploring the space. Yet the experience itself is self-guided. Guests will be able to wander about on their own. Those who visit Shiki Dreams are given a headset that plays calming music tailored to each room. The headset is meant to block out external sounds — so guests can really focus on how the experience affects them.
Similar to Natura Obscura — visitors to Shiki Dreams are given a black light with which they can discover various hidden messages throughout the experience. Prismajic also pointed out that each art piece was created with materials that may have otherwise gone to waste. Guests will find a shack created from recycled fence posts, a tree created by PVC pipes and shrubbery made with tissue paper. The experience encourages visitors to use their childlike imaginations while exploring the space.
The use of technology is also important to the creators of Shiki Dreams. Visitors will have the option to either download an app on their phones or use a phone provided by the artists on site. With this app, guests will be able to point their cameras at specific points in the space that will then reveal an image on their phones. The app is a crucial part of the experience as users will discover a narrative unfolding on their smartphones. Helpful hint — keep an eye out for the red butterflies.
The pop-up installation spans about 1,200 square feet — yet visitors will find hidden gems in every direction. The name Shiki means “four seasons” in Japanese. Therefore, each room in the space represents a different season. The artists who worked on this project have made sure that no one will feel bored and Jaenike and Mosquera assure that this experience will awaken guests’ inner curiosity and leave them feeling like kids again.
While Natura Obscura saw tremendous success and Shiki Dreams is likely to follow — the artists of Prismajic assure that the road was not an easy one. Mosquera used to be a district attorney in Denver until she gave up her career to follow her passion for art.
“It was tough, it definitely took the wind out of my sails,” Mosquera shared. “You have to understand that being an artist for some people is a full-time gig, for others it’s a hobby. That doesn’t make them any less of an artist.”
Jaenike comes from a background in business before finding his way in the art scene.
“There are many ways to be an artist,” said Jaenike. “The hardest way is to follow a traditional path. Anything in the immersive arts is a great pathway to go into. Keep an open mind.”
While all of the artists are credited together in the installation — visitors will note that individual pieces do not have placards. Prismajic states that this experience was a group effort between all of the artists. While some artists may have worked on large sets and others worked on the fine details — Prismajic believes that all of the artists deserve equal recognition for their work.
As Prismajic rolls out their second immersive art experience — visitors will find that Shiki Dreams is an experience unlike any other. From the all-encompassing sensory experiences — to the tiny hidden details — visitors are sure to be in awe of the work. Be prepared to feel peace and respite from the bustle of the outside world. Bring your sense of wonder and an open mind as you explore a place where time seems to standstill.
Shiki Dreams is open Tuesday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The installation will close May 25. The pop-up is located at 2219 East 21st Avenue, Denver. Tickets are $14 for ages six and up and should be purchased online, as dates are selling out fast.
All photography by Barbara Urzua