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Beyond the frame

Technology-driven artworks, mixed reality playgrounds and galleries that engage all the senses are transforming art as we know it

In a dimly lit room permeated by the scent of flowers and the sound of a distant melody, an orchid suddenly blossoms. Within seconds, the entire room is filled with pink buds that seem to bloom out of nowhere. Leaves appear and the sun comes out, bathing the room in a vibrant glow. A butterfly lands on a petal and as you inch closer to brush its wings, you realise it's nothing but a screen!

Blurring the lines between reality and the virtual world, immersive art spaces around the world are bringing digital art to life in new and creative ways. Driven by technology, these mixed-reality playgrounds are changing the way we experience art. While some venues bring to life famous artworks – think walking through Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night – others are transforming galleries into simulated worlds, where anything is possible. Below, we look at the best immersive digital art destinations in the region.

TeamLab Borderless Jeddah

Expanding into the Middle East for the first time from its original home in Tokyo, TeamLab seeks to blur the physical borders of art by creating immersive worlds that engage all the senses. TeamLab Borderless Jeddah brings artwork out of frames to communicate with other works, intermingle with and influence each other.

Set in Jeddah's Al Balad District, this immersive space creates one continuous world without boundaries using advanced technology that blends light, sound and touch.

A second location in the Middle East is set to open soon in Saadiyat Cultural District. Spanning 17,000 square kilometres, teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi will be an immersive, experiential journey through cutting-edge installations sitting at the intersection of art and technology.

Theatre of Digital Art, Dubai

Dubai's first digital art space, the Theatre of Digital Art adds refreshing new perspectives to famous works by transforming them with advanced technology and immersive storytelling. The vibrant halls display classical creations, accompanied by music, visual effects and surround sound to create an immersive experience.

The gallery's inaugural exhibition showcased the works of nine celebrated artists, including Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Wassily Kandinsky and more. Its ever-evolving offering means that there are new art realms to discover every few weeks.

Aya Universe, Dubai

Taking immersive art to the next level, Aya Universe at Wafi City combines art and technology to bring a magical world to life across 12 zones. Visitors can drift through observatories full of stars, walk through gardens blooming with light, marvel at waterfalls in reverse and feel like they’re floating alongside flying celestial creatures.

With each zone designed to transform as guests explore the space and respond to stimuli, no two visits will ever be alike.

Art in Space, Dubai

An immersive multisensory 360° art space in Downtown Dubai, Art in Space stimulates and involves the five senses by incorporating video, audio, scents, light, fog and temperature into one experience. The gallery seeks to bridge the gap between contemporary two-dimensional works and the digital world to prove that art has infinite possibilities.

While installations keep changing, the gallery is currently displaying Wild Harmony by Ada Crow (pictured below).

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