Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Virtually on Holiday

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Virtually on Holiday

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

A new exhibition at Baltic invites you to holiday in a virtual world, as David Whetstone explains.

Let's face it, holidays can be a pain.

All that stressful travel, unfamiliar food and the obligation to do things you wouldn't normally be seen dead doing, like paddling with a knotted handkerchief on your head or drinking pink stuff with fruit in it. And having to pay through the nose for the privilege.

A pair of artists from Switzerland can claim to have made the holiday experience completely pain-free ( although you could argue that they have thrown out a good deal of the pleasure, too.

Package Holiday is the first UK exhibition by Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg and you can find it on Level 2 at Baltic, Gateshead.

On offer is an ingenious virtual holiday experience. One wall is devoted to a huge Alpine panorama, highly realistic until you get up close and see that the rocks and plants are computer-generated.

There's a neat little yellow bench which you are invited to sit on, as if admiring the mountainous scene before you. While sitting and apparently breathing in the crisp, thin, mountain air, you will be captured on a camera linked to a website (

If you and your friends ( wherever they be in the world ( coordinate watches and time zones, they can go online and enjoy the sight of you apparently high up in the mountains where a lonely goatherd or a singing nun might any minute hove into view.

OK, I know The Sound of Music is set in Austria, but any Brit will hear Julie Andrews' soaring vocals in their head the minute they encounter this seemingly care-free Alpine scene.

Monica and Christoph didn't seem to get the joke, which suggests one of the greatest musicals ever committed to celluloid doesn't bring universal joy to the Swiss.

While politely conceding that there was a playful element to their work, they both stressed ( Monica in game but halting English ( that there is a serious side, too. …

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