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The magic of nature comes to life in show

Updated: 2024-05-07 06:00 ( Xinhua )
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Is it possible to see mushrooms grow, hear flowers bloom, smell a rainforest and feel the air flow beneath the flapping wings of flamingos in a busy shopping mall in Beijing? It seems the answer to those questions is yes, as the latest exhibition at the Keyi Art Museum in Wanda Plaza takes the audience on a sensory journey to different parts of the planet. Launched by France's Sensory Odyssey Studio and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as well as the Shanghai-based China Dream Live Entertainment, or CDE Live, Sensory Odyssey runs from April 30 to Oct 20. It features videos taken in different habitats, each accompanied by different sensory effects, such as odor and wind, to create an immersive experience.

Upon first entering the exhibition hall, visitors step into the wilderness of Kenya where they can watch flamingos fly into the sky on a huge screen, as well as hear lions and zebras in the darkness ahead of a savannah thunderstorm, see visualizations of the acoustic signals sent by bats in a rainforest in Peru, and venture underground in video of moles digging tunnels and of mushrooms breaking through the soil. They will be able to immerse themselves in a magnified and amplified world to hear the sounds of ants walking and flowers blooming and finally, the chance to dive into the sea and witness whales spraying water into the air. The journey ends with a tunnel that leads back to the real world.

Gwenael Allan, CEO and co-founder of Sensory Odyssey Studio, compared the experience to Alice exploring the land of Charles Darwin. "All our content is magnified to allow you to hear, see, smell and feel nature like never before," he says. "We give you a superpower to perceive the world and change the way you relate to it."

Zhu Ranhua, CEO of CDE Live, the company that has brought the exhibition to China, explains further. "With this exhibition, we are trying to break the 'screen' between us as observers and the animals and plants, so that visitors can really go into nature. This exhibition is different from those I have seen before," she says.

Zhu adds that she was touched by the production, and hopes that her emotion will be shared by the audience.

Allan says that the idea of creating the exhibition came to him while he was in Brazil, where he found that the presence of nature was strong.

"A lot of the problems we find in society today are the result of disconnection between humans and nature, and the prevalent view of nature as something you either use, exploit or are afraid of," he says. He hopes that the exhibition will help address that disconnection by helping visitors feel that they are a part of nature.

Sensory Odyssey Studio spent four years preparing before they eventually started filming in 2020. Their team consisted of 300 people, including scientists, artists, designers, engineers and all kinds of sound, lighting and graphic specialists. Filming and production took 18 months, with the team collecting footage and data from six locations in Africa, Europe and South America.

Beijing is the fourth place to host the exhibition, which has previously been held in France, Singapore and Brazil, where it attracted half a million visitors, many of them children. "The children become quiet," says Allan. "They listen. They become really attentive."

He hopes that the exhibition helps visitors better understand the emotions, behavior and needs they have with all nonhuman species to create empathy, thereby encouraging them to care for this planet we all share intimately and to do their best to regenerate it.

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