2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday July 6, 2016

Updated on Friday July 13, 2018

Dancing (with) Artworks

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The Launch of #JumpingJacks in Vilnius

As Europeana 280’s public engagement events move from #BigArtRide to #Jumping Jacks, Donatas Snarskis tells us how the Lithuanian Art Museum kicked off this exciting event series. Read on to find out how it went and how you can get involved.

The #Europeana280 campaign offers great entertainment for those who want to engage with European art. One can celebrate Europe’s art history not only by exploring the unique #Europeana280 collection online but also by participating in a series of events across Europe. Nine cities have already been involved in the virtual reality tour #BigArtRide that invited you to take part in a bike race through a virtual city populated with #Europeana280 artworks. And on the night of 17 June 2016 an interactive digital installation #JumpingJacks was launched in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It kick-started another set of events that will be held in cultural venues across Europe until November 2016. This blog post aims to share my impressions of the Lithuanian event and to provide some insights for those eagerly waiting for their turn to try #JumpingJacks themselves.

Interacting with Europeana 280 artworks in a different light. Photo by Tomas Kapočius.

Software and Artworks
#JumpingJacks uses software designed by the Danish agency Spild af Tid that combines art, interactive technology and responds to dynamic human bodies. Participants of the #JumpingJacks digital installation see their own bodies projected onto a wall or a screen, only they are transformed by cut-out pieces from #Europeana280 public domain artworks. Instead of one’s head, torso, arms and legs - various cut-out fragments from different artworks appear. As one moves, the #JumpingJacks figure moves as well. New, unique, and moving artworks are created with every motion.

Context of the event
#JumpingJacks was not the only event happening in Vilnius during the night of 17th June. There were almost 200 other projects and events spread throughout the city, part of the annual Culture Night Festival. During this one-night festival theatres, museums, galleries, and churches open their doors to visitors. And various types of artistic projects - music, dance, theatre, cinema, photography, state-of-the-art installations - fill squares, streets, parks, and the most unexpected spaces of the Old Town. All the events are free and open to all. As a result, the city is filled with crowds of people eager to engage with culture and arts. You could not wish for a better occasion to host #JumpingJacks in Vilnius!

Location and Setting
#JumpingJacks was projected on the exterior wall of the Museum of Radvilas Palace, the department of the Lithuanian Art Museum dedicated to collections and exhibitions of foreign art. It seemed an appropriate location for the event as the Lithuanian Art Museum has contributed a great selection of images to the #Europeana280 campaign. Paintings such as Woman with the Artist (1948) by Vytautas Kasiulis and Settlers (1933) by Antanas Gudaitis were highlights of the #JumpingJacks mix.

Moreover, it was the setting of the event - outdoors and in the dark - that made the experience of #JumpingJacks even more special. ‘Night Changes Everything’ was the slogan of this year’s Culture Night festival and it was hard to argue with that. Lights coming from #JumpingJacks were seen from far and wide and being outdoors and outside the museum, they were symbolic of the commitment to bringing art closer to audiences that #JumpingJacks represents. Using interactive technology allowed people to directly engage with art. But the outdoor setting was equally important, so art could be enjoyed and discovered by everyone, not just museum visitors.

Naturally, hosting an outdoor event comes with a risk of bad weather. Forecasts on the morning of 17 June were far from reassuring. Nearly apocalyptic weather - strong winds, rain, and storm with thunderbolts and lightning - was predicted for the event. Fortunately, the storm came several hours early. The weather cleared right on time and was perfect throughout the event, allowing people to enjoy the outdoor festival.

The generally festive atmosphere of Vilnius was not the only factor enhancing the launch of #JumpingJacks. The Nordic Countries Concert took place less than 20m away, with Swedish, Icelandic, Danish and Nordic-Baltic bands performing. The concert gave an additional dimension of music which otherwise was missing from a #JumpingJacks event. And the audience loved it! Participants were interacting with #Europeana280 artworks while dancing with their #JumpingJacks figures were dancing along. Music and #JumpingJacks is a great fit!

The most rewarding part of the event was the number of people attracted by #JumpingJacks and their reaction to the project. Right from the start at 22.00 until the end of the festival at 02.00 people were queuing and waiting to try #JumpingJacks themselves. And many more people enjoyed watching people enjoying themselves. People were laughing, taking videos and pictures and discussing the artworks. From very young children to seniors, everyone who tried #JumpingJacks left in a good mood.

Could your institution host a #Jumping Jacks event this autumn – perhaps as part of Museums in the Night or similar? If you’re interested please contact Marijke.Everts@europeana.eu or Eleanor.Kenny@europeana.eu to find out more.