You can immerse yourself in the Great Barrier Reef, and stay dry, in Germany

13 Oct 2015

A visitor admires Asisi’s ‘Great Barrier Reef’ at the Panometer Leipzig. Photo: Tom Schulze / © asisi

You don’t need to travel to the other side of the world with scuba-diving certification to experience the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, you can explore this underwater ecosystem in Leipzig without even getting wet.

Vienna-born, Berlin-based artist Yadegar Asisi is known for his panoramic projects and has previously transplanted visitors to his exhibition space into Dresden of 1945, 19th-century Leipzig and Ancient Rome.

Since 2003 he has been creating the world’s largest 360-degreee panoramas on a 1:1 scale and his latest work, Great Barrier Reef, is a stunning underwater experience that requires no scuba training to enjoy.

Yadegar Asisi

Yadegar Asisi conducting research for his coral reef panorama. © asisi

In preparation for this exhibition, Asisi took three trips to the real-life Great Barrier Reef off the northeastern coast of Australia, researching the underwater ecosystem in detail and capturing some 50,000 photographs.

With his photo and video research, plus drawings, sketches and paintings, Asisi then created a fictitious, compressed version of the scenery using countless layers of digital imagery.

Yadegar Asisi

Yadegar Asisi

More underwater research for the coral reef project. © asisi

These images were then transferred to 32m-high polyester fabric panels using the sublimation print method, and touched up by hand using paint and brushes.

Buildings such as the Panometer Leipzig – a listed former gasometer with an internal cylindrical surface and 34m-high steel rotunda – are ideal for panoramic exhibitions, and visitors dive into the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, so to speak, via a 15m-high steel platform.

The illusion of a deep-water experience is then completed with lighting and a soundscape specially composed by Eric Babak.

Great Barrier Reef. Photo by Tom Schulze / © asisi

A 15m-high platform allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Great Barrier Reef. Photo by Tom Schulze / © asisi

The aim of Great Barrier Reef is to express the complexity, diversity and beauty of the coral reef ecosystem, and an accompanying exhibition includes some 80 examples of coral reef flora and fauna.

In their entirety, the 37 panorama screens cover approximately 3,500m sq and run roughly the length of a football pitch. They are about 10 storeys high and weigh about 650kg.

Great Barrier Reef will remain on display in the Panometer Leipzig until 18 September 2016.

Photo by Tom Schulze / © asisi

Photo by Tom Schulze / © asisi

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.