Experience Radar 58: Rethinking The Future Of Festivals And Banksy Exhibition Comes To Philly

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 58 where we’re soaking up the immersive artworks at Refraction Festival, getting a digital makeover through the power of AR, and watching fireflies dance at the BBC Earth Experience.

1. Rethinking The Future Of Festivals

Refraction Festival, which took place during Miami Art Week, is rethinking the festival model by combining the best of IRL and URL, turning digital art into a tangible, communal experience. As reported by Office Magazine, the festival, masterminded by RefractionDAO, featured web3-enabled music and digital art experiences. Over 60 artists, including Alex Gibson, Andy Rolfes and Elna Frederick created site-specific works that were minted live throughout the festival. Refraction partnered with Nike and Craig Barrow on the design of the show, which featured mirrors, light installations and reflective materials.

By focusing on community participation and ownership, Refraction is taking the traditional festival model and morphing it into a platform for expression and progress. The event saw contemporary artists and cutting-edge musicians gather at the Future of Cities Hub, with musical acts including Yaeji, Jimmy Edgar, Sel.6, Space Afrika, Debit, Marie Davidson, Doss and INVT. Founded by artists Nate Boyce and Lorna Mills, RefractionDAO’s goal is to build connections within the art community. From buying artworks to being part of an avant-garde artist network, Refraction makes web3 a space of possibility for the crypto-curious.

2. Gen Z Thirsty For Immersive Experiences

In contrast to the desires of Baby Boomers, Generation Z (those born after 1997) are prioritising memorable experiences over material possessions. As reported by Forbes, Gen Z’s shopping habits have diverged from their millennial counterparts, and in order to connect to them, brands need to be offering an entertaining, participatory retail experience rather than simply flogging merch. In order to succeed with the increasingly influential Gen Z, brands need to rethink their strategies and turn shopping into an immersive experience.

“Successful companies will likely adopt some variation of the immersive model, while those that continue to sell products and services in traditional ways will find themselves at risk of slipping into irrelevance,” Forbes warns. Having grown up online, Gen Z are getting their retail fix digitally, and are increasingly using social media apps like TikTok to search for products. Firms like Amazon are responding with AR view and virtual try-on features, while Sephora is offering digital makeovers via its virtual artist feature and Telsa is encouraging people to pimp their rides, customising their car from the paint finish down to the rims.

3. Deloitte Partners With Swamp Motel

Professional services network Deloitte has taken a savvy approach to motivating its workforce to take action in tackling climate change. As reported by The Drum, the international firm wanted to create something accessible, positive, inclusive and different from standard education programmes that got employees talking. To achieve its goal, the firm partnered with experiential theatre company Swamp Motel to create Enter Net Zero Live, an immersive online experience that transported Deloitte staffers to a world further down the road to net zero, inspired by the company’s own research insights.

In this brave new world employees take on the role of investors uncovering different businesses to determine the opportunities with the strongest ESG credentials. Staffers are tasked with investing a £1m fund to make the most return for their clients. To keep things exciting, the game mimics the speed of real-time investing comms, with messages constantly pinging into the user’s inbox. “It wasn’t something we’d typically do, but we knew it would be important to be creative as we could and to use immersive storytelling if we were to achieve our objective,” a spokesperson for the consultancy told The Drum.

4. Pantone Turns Colour OTY Into Experience

The annual announcement of Pantone’s Colour of The Year has become something of an event. Hoping to capture the zeitgeist, during the pandemic the colour specialist had the temerity to release not one but two shades of the season – a sombre grey and cheerful yellow, which perfectly encapsulated the mood of the moment, and our collective need for hope in desperate times. Keen to be down with the kids, this year the firm has gone a step further than having the colour appear on phones and sneakers, and created an immersive experience at Art Basel Miami around its hue for 2023 – magenta.

As reported by The Fast Company, a 10,000 square foot, two-floor space has been dedicated to the vivid pink hue, which, according to vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute, Laurie Pressman, symbolises the “unconventional time” we’re living in. Designed by Artechouse Studio, the US$1 million exhibition features cornucopia of multisensory experiences, including a room inspired by NASA’s moon landing, and a space where magenta is used in a series of LED animations. After Miami Pantone will be taking the show to New York and Washington. Keen to gauge the latest trends in fashion, design and interiors, Pantone spends six months researching its colour of the year, which launched in 1999.

5. Banksy Exhibition Comes To Philly

Elusive English street artist Banksy is getting a dedicated immersive exhibition in Philadelphia. As reported by Delaware Online, the ‘unauthorised’ multimedia show, called Banksy Was Here: The Exhibition, the show will shine light on the vision, impact and mystery surrounding the artist. Taking place at the Philadelphia Fashion District, the brainchild of Fever and Exhibition Hub features over 80 “genuine and certified’’ Banksy artworks – including Girl with Balloon – sculptures, installations, videos and photos from private collections.

While parts of the show have toured separately, the Philly run marks the world premiere of the full exhibition, which takes attendees deep into the world of the Bristol-born street artist, whose identity remains a mystery, offering an immersive educational journey through Banksy’s controversial career. Expect to come up close and personal with his portrait of Lenin, Fallen Angels and Monkey Detonator. “Banksy’s work allows us to see our everyday world in a different way,” said Exhibition Hub’s John Zaller.

6. Attenborough Gets The Immersive Treatment

We recently reported on an exciting new VR experience in London’s Westfield that sees wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough guiding viewers through the evolution of flight as you soar past butterflies, hummingbirds and flying dinosaurs. Now Attenborough is at it again, as news reaches us that the national treasure is to narrate a new immersive experience in London next March that takes inspiration from Van Gogh’s playbook. As reported by the Radio Times, BBC Earth Experience will take visitors on a 360-degree audio-visual journey via the latest, multi angle digital screen technology.

Habitats from the world’s seven continents will be projected onto the walls of the purpose-built Daikin Centre in London during the hour-long experience, with video footage from Attenborough’s Seven Worlds, One Planet series featuring throughout. Expect to see fireflies dancing in North America, snub-nosed monkeys huddling in Asia, and a face-off between hamsters in Europe. “We’re delighted to partner with Moon Eye Productions and Live Nation to bring the BBC’s ground-breaking natural history content to this amazing London location,” said Mat Way, global director of live entertainment at BBC Studios.

7. Very Launches Virtual Try-On Experience

Online retailer Very is seeking to elevate the customer experience via its new virtual try-on tech for its beauty brands. As reported by The Retail Bulletin, Very is seeking to create a more immersive shopping experience and is enabling shoppers to try before their buy and experiment with how various lipsticks and lip glosses marry with their skin tone through the power of augmented reality.  Using ModiFace technology, customers shopping on Very’s app can virtually try on 24 lip products by big hitters like L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline and NYX.

Shoppers on Very’s mobile website can also make the most of Benefit brow try-on tech to experiment with different eyebrow styles, shades and shapes, and receive recommendations on the products required to create the looks. “Technology is a powerful tool in creating immersive, personalised digital customer experiences, and we’re exploring the use of AR across other categories like fashion, home and electrical. By using tech to bring our customers closer to products, we can recreate the in-person shopping experience online and give them even greater confidence that they’re choosing the right products for them,” Paul Hornby, digital customer experience director at The Very Group, told TRB.