Years ago, on first hearing of the immersive experience of artists, I imagined the wonders I might experience in Paris or New York City. And sure enough, Dallas was late coming to that game. Suddenly, Van Gogh was coming! Tickets were available, good because my default is that things I want to do are sold out. I purchased two in March, well ahead of the October event date. And with a certain discount, they weren’t expensive, good because my other default is that such things are expensive.
Two glitches: The app wouldn’t transfer my friend’s ticket to her easily. This was easily solved at the venue.
The second issue needs more discussion: Where was the thing to be held? The tickets said Choctaw Stadium, formerly Globe Life Field. Other sources—the newspaper, for example—gave an address in downtown Dallas, 507 S. Harwood. Was it the same event, different venues? Different events? How to distinguish? Google, I thought you were on my side!
The problem arises from the names of these two experiences. Immersive Van Gogh Dallas versus Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. They are so close that my brain cannot seem to separate them even now. This link explains both, and it’s easy to see which one is favored. 40 pictures vs 8? The prices are comparable, but which experience (oops! copyrighted?) is better?
This writer favors Immersive Van Gogh for reasons including a better musical accompaniment and less cheesy effects. It’s a long article, though, and quite subjective. This shorter one promises “thoughts” but actually offers only summaries. And finally, this one explains the rivalry. Not unexpectedly, the one we saw is not the one with the better reputation. Although The Dallas Morning News (no link—subscribers only) prefers Arlington’s, the reasons have more to do with the fact it may be more educational. A VR addition for a mere $10 also influences the writer’s decision. The complaints about ours include marketing and scamming, and while Google may not be completely at fault, I do feel I was had. The app Fever sells the Arlington version while the Dallas one is through a Ticketmaster partner. In case you want to go, too
All that said, I will probably go to the second/better one as well. But here’s my question finally: Could this have been on purpose? Were the rivals not really that at all in the planning but calculating a greater turnout than one alone might have generated? It’s a theory, of course, but the close similarity in names makes me wonder why the first didn’t sue the second for copyright infringement. Probably not, but I wonder.
A brief diversion and then a story. Andrea Bocelli came to Dallas with his Believe Tour, so my friend and I went. She has grander ideas than I. These shows are beyond my expectations. Believe started 30 minutes late. By the time the orchestra took the stage, any grievances we had were gone: The great man arrived! He has a certain stage presence that reflects a lifetime of performances to an adoring public, currently enhanced by lights and images, videos and co-performers.
This link describes the same concert in Milwaukee. And by “same,” I mean identical—the same timing of entrances, the singers on the tour, the program. Even the same “spontaneous” comments. The writer is brief but ecstatic about Bocelli. Among the others was a young cellist named Ayanna Witter-Johnson playing and singing “Roxanne,” a cover originally by The Police. (People seemed to have heard of it.) She was dressed in a bright white pants suit and stood to play, the cello on a long endpin. Who knew? It was more electrifying than the versions on YouTube. Back to Bocelli. Arias and pop songs, must-haves like “Time to Say Good-bye” and three (four?) encores, and we’re off to the traffic believing we had gotten our money’s worth. (The famous version with Sarah Brightman is, well, 59 million views. I saw her years ago, same friend.)
To my odd story—a few weeks ago, I visited a granite shop to commission a new coffee tabletop. The woman said it would be about two weeks out, ovals being more complicated to make. The next day, she called to tell me it was ready. Back I go, and it’s not close. When I arrived, she asked if she could help me. I thought I was clearly the customer from the day before but just said she’d called me. She acted as if she didn’t recognize me, and then this: “Oh, it was that other woman who brought it in yesterday—your mother maybe?” I was stunned and said no, it was definitely me. Hair up today, different make-up maybe? She never let on anything more than a mistake. After recovering, I began to think about other possibilities.
Like the art, like the concert, was this scripted and intentional? Did she do it more than once? Weekly, even? I have no answers. Perhaps it’s just cynicism not just for her but for the larger sphere of entertainment. What is real and what is calculated? Night after night, the same things sung and played. And why is a da Vinci worth $450 million? Why is Van Gogh the most represented artist on the list of most expensive paintings? Value as prescribed ? An odd power, influencing. Bocelli is wonderful. Only a few others would have tens of thousands applauding Italian opera while waiting for the more familiar. Only he could sing “Amazing Grace” with its line “Blind but now I see” and send a shiver into millions of hearts.
We may never spend real money for a painting, but we can spend some for an experience, manipulated or not. No, I think Google is not my friend. It’s become the arranger of what is best. We are all completely predictable, easily manipulated, easily algorithmed. How wonderful that must be for commerce.