Click on the arrows to get the full 360 degree experience.
I felt as impressed as everyone else did when I saw my first 360-degree video, the technology that allows viewers to "look" in any direction they wish. But most of the 360-degree videos that became popular early simply demonstrated the concept, and as much astonishment as the experience of the concept alone can generate, even more excitement came from thinking about the technology's potential. It hasn't taken long for 360-degree videos to look beyond virtual reality — indeed, to look all the way to virtual surreality, as envisioned by perhaps the best-known surrealist of them all, Salvador Dalí.
"Dreams of Dalí," the 36o-degree video above, drops you into the world of Dalí's 1935 canvas Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus,’ an homage to an earlier work (Jean-François Millet’s painting, "The Angelus") which enjoyed enormous popularity during Dalí's youth. This earlier work, notes the Dalí' Museum, was "reproduced on everything from prints and postcards to everyday objects like teacups and inkwells. The late 19th century painting depicts a peasant couple standing in a field with their heads bowed in prayer. For many it was a sentimental work, but for Dalí' it was troubling, with layers of hidden meaning, which he explored through daydreams and fantasies."
As the artist himself put it, "I surrendered myself to a brief fantasy during which I imagined sculptures of the two figures in Millet’s ‘Angelus’ carved out of the highest rocks." His formidable imagination converted that mid-19th-century image of rural hardship and piety into the moonlit desert landscape through which "Dreams of Dalí" flies you. Created for "Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination," an exhibit at St. Petersburg, Florida's Dalí Museum on the friendship and collaboration between those two visionary 20th-century world-creators (see Destino, the short film Dalí and Disney collaborated on), the video not only gives the painting a third spatial dimension, but a detailed sonic one featuring the godlike voice of Dalí himself.
If you make use of the arrows that appear in the video's upper-left corner or click and drag (or, on smartphones, press and drag with your finger) within the frame, you can turn the "camera" in any direction. Pay close enough attention, and you'll spot more than a few touches not included in the original painting that will nonetheless delight fans of the Dalí sensibility, not all of which you can catch on your first flight through. But as much as the experience may feel like a dream — and it counts as one of the few works to really merit the term "dreamlike" — it won't vanish as soon as you emerge from it; you can have at it again and again, seeing something new and surprising each time.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.