Experience Radar 19: The Mona Lisa Goes Digital, Yahaha Studios’ $50m Gaming Metaverse, And NYC Gets An NFT Restaurant

At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.

Welcome to Experience Radar 19 where we’re being guided through biomes by David Attenborough in hologram form, booking a table at the world’s first NFT restaurant, and learning about the health benefits of awe.

1. The Mona Lisa Goes Digital

La Joconde exhibition. Photo courtesy of Grand Palais

With everyone from Vincent Van Gogh to Frida Kahlo having been given the digital treatment, the thirst for immersive art experiences is showing no sign of slowing. To help satiate the growing global demand for multimedia art shows, the Grand Palais in Paris will boast a dedicated area for immersive digital experiences when it reopens in 2024.

Images courtesy of Grand Palais

According to The Art Newspaper, a new initiative called Grand Palais Immersif will be exported nationally and internationally, kicking off with an immersive and interactive Mona Lisa experience dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic masterpiece at Palais de la Bourse in Marseille, organised in partnership with the Louvre.

The Immersive Van Gogh exhibition. Photo by Unsplash

Grand Palais Immersif is also planning a multimedia show in collaboration with the Mucha Foundation in Prague on Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. Van Gogh Live has emerged as the darling of immersive art experiences and one of the Experience Economy’s greatest success stories of the pandemic era.

2. David Attenborough Turns Tour Guide

Sir David Attenborough. Work-in-progress production image captured during the making of The Green Planet AR Experience, powered by EE 5G. Image courtesy of BBC Studios

National treasure Sir David Attenborough has been turned into a hologram as part of a new immersive experience in London based on BBC docuseries The Green Planet. As reported by The Drum, The Green Planet Experience was developed and built by virtual agency Factory 42, EE, BBC Studios, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and production companies Talesmith and Dimenson.

Sir David Attenborough at Kew Gardens, London. Image courtesy of BBC Studios

In his hologram form, Attenborough guides visitors through six digitally-enhanced biomes taking them on a journey through rainforests, oceans and deserts surrounded by birds, butterflies and fish. Taking place on Regent Street, the free immersive experience is enjoyed through a device given to guests on entry. The aim of the event is to highlight the vital importance of plants and biodiversity to the future health of our planet.  

3. Why We Need More Awe

Look up to the stars. Photo by Unsplash

While not only providing us with a visual treat, being awestruck by nature has been found to have a myriad of positive benefits, from enhancing our memory and creativity to improving our mental heath. According to the BBC, feelings of awe can trigger a great mental shift, making it a useful tool for improving our health and wellbeing by putting our problems and anxieties into perspective.

“Stars in the night sky remind us of the universe beyond our experience; the sound of the ocean reminds us of its enormous depths; vivid sunsets remind us how vast and thick the atmosphere surrounding our planet is,” says Michelle Shiota, a professor of social psychology at Arizona State University, who was early to the party at pinpointing the benefits of awe and its ability to encourage more flexible thinking and greater levels of altruism towards our fellow beings.

4. Larry Harvey’s Burning Ambition

In 2004, 18 years after the creation of Burning Man, the festival’s co-founder, Larry Harvey, outlined the 10 guiding principles that helped to shape the ethos, culture and community spirit of the event. Serving as a mission statement, among Harvey’s principles for Burning Man is that it operates in the opposite way to a private member’s club, being open to all. The festival also encourages acts of gift giving when the giver seeks nothing in return, along with creating an environment unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising.

Harvey also preaches the importance of ‘radical self-reliance’ and the freedom of self-expression. “Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction,” he said. An early advocate of sustainability, Harvey highlighted the importance of leaving no trace after the festival, and championed the idea of communal participation as an agent of transformative change. “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture,” he said.

5. Adding Value In The Metaverse

In order for brands to have staying power within the metaverse, tech entrepreneur Dave Madden believes they need to be adding value to their experiences. Citing the rapid dwindling interest in Nikeland and Paris World on Roblox, Madden warns brand owners of the dangers of jumping into the metaverse without a strategy for user retention.

Image courtesy of Nikeland

“Making successful games is a tough, hit-driven business. Game experiences need to be thought of as live services,” he writes. “There is a tremendous opportunity for brands to build equity, loyalty and purchase intent with gamers in the coming Web3 paradigm. The recipe for success will be based on adding value to the player experience.”

Image courtesy of Nikeland

Madden believes one of the best chances for brands to succeed within the arena is via NFTs and the selling of virtual possessions, from trainers to handbags, targeting super fans seeking bragging rights over their unique collectibles. “Brands should stick to their core of making the world’s greatest products and generating demand for those products in both the real and virtual worlds,” he says.

6. NFT Restaurant To Open In New York

NFT Tuna Caviar. Image courtesy of the Flyfish Club

Having made their name in the art world, NFTs are poised to make a splash in the hospitality industry with the opening of an NFT-driven restaurant in New York. According to The Washington Post, entry into the ground-breaking Flyfish Club – a seafood-inspired luxury dining club in Manhattan – will be limited to those who have snapped up a Flyfish NFT with crypto currency beforehand.

Due to open next year in an as-yet-unnamed location, Flyfish Club is the brainchild of VCR group, a restaurant group backed by tech entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of online reservation system Resy. VCR has already generated US$15m in sales of Flyfish Club tokens, with basic membership tokens costing around $13,600 – a fee that only gets you through the door.

Those willing to pay double will be given access to a private room offering omakase dining experiences. VCR’s founder, David Rodolitz, said consumers were attracted to the “social currency” that NFTs provide. “Now we’re looking at LinkedIn, but in five years we’re going to be looking at someone’s digital wallet to see who they are,” he said.

7. Yahaha Studios To Create Gaming Metaverse

Image courtesy of Yahaha Studios

Social entertainment platform Yahaha Studios has raised US$50 million in funding to help it build a metaverse game creation platform of the same name, which is due to launch in early 2022. As reported by Venture Beat, the firm raised the money across three rounds of funding over the last six months.

Image courtesy of Yahaha Studios

“Yahaha offers a unique creative and social experience to game developers and gamers alike. Through our platform, we are empowering creators at all levels, from established developers to those making their first game,” Yahaha’s CEO, Chris Zhu, said, adding, “We’re looking forward to launching this year and bringing the first stage of our vision for the future of content creation to life.”

Yahaha is a metaverse platform dedicated to user-generated content. Created by a team of Unity veterans, it offers a set of services for game development, including art assets. Developers of varying experience levels can create or monetise games within Yahaha Studio’s editing tool.