In a nearly vacant strip mall on the East side of Franklin County, artists are creating something they say hasn't been seen before - right inside an old, retail space.
Jordan Renda and his team of creatives and technicians have been building an immersive art experience meets escape room called Otherworld for the past year.
“There's a little bit of something for everyone here,” says Renda. “The whole experience is tied together by this underlying narrative. So, you can dive in as deep as you want into the story, but you can also enjoy the colorful, visual elements of it.”
Renda was inspired by his experience working with escape rooms and haunted houses. He says that visitors become beta testers at the fictional “Otherworld Industries” – and will wander through a unique experience combining light, sound, art, touch and more.
“Little kids can press buttons and change the entire environment around them,” says Renda. “So everything is almost interactive in one way or another.”
Some parts of the 30,000 square foot installation are still under construction, but photographers, models and hair and makeup artists from the Columbus Editorial Society got a first look at some of the completed spaces on Saturday. Philip Liddell oversees the technical aspects at Otherworld.
“A lot of our spaces have a little bit of everything,” says Liddell. “There will be a little bit of projection mapping showing some video content both real time and pre-rendered. Like in after effects and stuff like that. There will also be some like electronic elements, some sensors, and some interactive code to tie everything together with sound design and lighting.”
Liddell, who worked in audio visual design and museums, says Otherworld shows new ways for technology and art to come together.
“There are a lot of new ways to think visually,” says Liddell. “There are a lot of new ways to think about like, how both projection and light surfaces work. And, how the location and interaction to the user works. You can make art that thinks. And there's a lot of cool new ways to think about art when you assume the thing you are making has a brain, and can react and can react to you.”
They say the goal is to create new ways to connect with art.
“Experiencing art doesn't have to be something that's real high-brow and kind of passive, that you look at on a wall,” says Renda. “It can be something that's fun and meaningful at the same time. And that's what we are trying to do here.”
Otherworld is set to open for visitors in late April, but visitors can get presale tickets by going to the Otherworld Ohio website.
A previous version of this article did not name the photography and modeling group recorded in the story. This has been corrected.