When it comes to unique activities (especially on a rainy day like today), I don’t think you could plan better than to spend an hour inside Cascade: A Jen Stark Experience; an immersive, interactive, wildly psychedelic digital art experience presented across 6,000 square feet of exhibition space at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn. If you’re curious whether Cascade — which is currently competing with two immersive digital Van Gogh exhibits, and Banksy’s Genius or Vandal — is worth the trek from Manhattan to Brooklyn, let me assure you that it is all that and a bag of shrooms.
Come take a peek inside.
Cascade is made up of six separate experiences; each different from the other, but all of them complementary to the cohesive audio-visual trippyness that makes drugs completely unnecessary. You will enter Cascade through a room called Space Junk. (Notice there is a light bleed from the entrance in some pics, which cannot be helped, but when looking away from the entrance into the exhibit, the lead gallery is quite dark.)
Space Junk is an interactive room inspired by Katmari Damacy, a 2004 Japanese puzzle-action video game where players are tasked with rolling an adhesive ball through various urban landscapes, collecting increasingly larger objects until the ball has grown big enough to be transformed into a star. Evoking these simple yet beautiful mechanics, the shapes in this intergalactic room function in a similar manner
This is what it looks inside Space Junk from a first-person perspective:
I happened to visit pretty early in the afternoon (“off peak”) so my video does not have a bunch of randos walking through it, or staring down at their phones. Yay!
Eventually, more people showed up for their impromptu selfies and Influencer video shoots. I am not selfie-obsessed, but I appreciated having ‘models’ present, so you can get an idea of what the room looks like when people are interacting with the visuals.
As the abstract forms hit the ground, they magnetize to the viewer’s feet, like a satellite or asteroid being pulled into a planet’s orbit, strobing and revolving autonomously while they accumulate beneath the viewer.
This room also has custom sound generated by movement. When two technicolor clouds of space junk collide, they emit a symphony of tones that are reminiscent of kalimba chimes and wooden drums. You can spend a lot time in Space Junk just walking around looking at the pretty colors and shapes. If you are there with a friend, have him or her snap a few pics of you for your Instagram, because it really is pretty cool.
Right outside of the Space Junk room you’ll see a selection of NFTS based on each of the rooms and exhibits, which will be auctioned off at some point. These are pretty cool, and they are constantly changing, so you can watch them for a few minutes as a visual palate cleanser and not get bored.
Next, you should spend some time in the Rainbow Cycle, which is also interactive, musical, and very different from Space Junk. For Rainbow Cycle, Stark set out to create a collaborative sonic experience that mimics the sounds of a Tibetan singing bowl; an ancient meditation instrument that invokes a deep state of relaxation and regeneration.
Upon entering the undulating rainbow of healing light and color, the viewer’s aura manifests as a bubble of inverted colors and is imprinted with its own unique musical note.
This note gets louder as you move closer to the center of the room and quieter in the periphery. As viewers fill the room, their distinct auras create an orchestra of human interaction.
Up next is the Strobe Wall, an interactive musical mural!
Strobe Wall consists of undulating geometric shapes and pulsating hues that showcase Stark’s fascination with Op Art and color theory.
Here, both of these artistic interests are reflected in the chromatic tension that arises from the juxtaposition of complementary colors of equal intensity. This push-and-pull effect is further accentuated when the circles, squares, triangles, and diamonds are activated by the touch of a hand, which causes the shapes to reverse direction and change in tonality.
The Strobe Wall is especially good for kids, as even the smallest children will be tall enough touch the wall and interact with it, and the reward is immediate.
I believe that many will be in agreement on the big ticket item in Cascade being the Portal room. Check out this video below and tell me you don’t want to experience it firsthand:
While Stark’s visual lexicon has become most synonymous with her vibrant drips and alien forms, portals have been prevalent since the onset off her practice, when she was making sculptures out of colored construction paper and wood. In these early works, inspired by enigmatic black holes, the viewer felt as if they were on the cusp of entering another dimension, but not fully inside one.
Inside Portal, projections on the walls and floor create the sensation of flying inside a spinning vortex, making this the artist’s most immersive portal to-date. In addition to space and time travel, Portal indirectly references geological formations, topographical maps, and patterns in evolution.
Next Up: Drip Cascade, which is the artist’s homage to the psychedelic era. Stark’s signature drips, characterized by oozing forms with contoured bands of color, steadily trickle down the wall.
Subtle vibrations of rhythmic pulses, coupled with the hypnotic cascade effect, create what Stark calls “psychedelic camouflage,” an immersive veil that unlocks sacred geometries from the natural and spiritual realm.
It’s also a great background for your solo or group photos!
At last, it was time to exit through gift shop, but not before one more gallery to soften the blow of your re-entry into the real world. I’m not sure what this one is called, but the morphing, psychedelic, kaleidoscopic images have the appearance of being quilted, which I found comforting.
Below, you will see how the images progress before the room resets itself.
If you’re looking to take home a piece of Jen Stark’s trippy original art, there’s a gallery with assorted works that sell for around $20,000, which is not a bad price, if you have the coin.
There’s also a gift shop area stocked with lots of Jen Stark Swag!
Cascade: a Jen Stark Experience was just extended to run through November 7th, 2021, and I would advise you not to miss it. Ticket prices vary according to what time of day you attend, and whether you are coming on a weekday or weekend (see screenshot above). All Covid-19 safety procedures are in effect; you must show proof of vaccination, and wear a mask at all times while inside the exhibit or anywhere on the premises. Visit This Link to reserve a time and purchase your tickets now!