Exhibitionists

A sci-fi date gone wrong inside Toronto's Funhouse

Amanda Parris explores the trippy immersive art experience in this week's episode of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists.

Amanda Parris explores the trippy immersive art experience in this week's episode of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists

Amanda Parris in the underwater ballroom at The Funhouse (CBC Arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists now on CBC Gem or watch it on CBC-TV Fridays at 11:30 p.m. (12 a.m. NT), or Sundays at 3:30 p.m. (4 p.m. NT)

Housed in a 7,500-square-foot former dance studio off Queen St. West, Toronto's The Funhouse is no carnival attraction. It's 3 floors of immersive art spaces thoughtfully designed by local artists to be more than a location to take selfies. After picking up a ticket in the bright pink art deco lobby, visitors choose their own adventure through hallways and rooms full of AR, music and surreal installations designed by artists including Ness Lee, Getso, Emily May Rose and Jeff Blackburn. At The Funhouse, you might find a gigantic sculpted elephant in a eucalyptus-scented room or stumble into a glowing under-the-sea themed ballroom full of neon coral.

"I would describe it as an acid trip minus the acid," says artist Paul Jackson. "So somewhere you can come and carefree, experience some crazy environments."

Jackson's space is a collaboration with musician Bad Child and was inspired by his record called Free Trial. "This is like a visualized version of a sci-fi date that has gone wrong and is sinking into this different dimension." The room includes AR components, a wall of faces inspired by West World and a glitching sound and light installation that's triggered when visitors sit down at a table that's sinking into the floor. 

Amanda Parris experiences Paul Jackson's ominous room

Artist Paul Jackson gives Amanda Parris a tour of his immersive art room at Toronto's The Funhouse 4:24

Jackson is known for his surreal black and white drawings and was excited to translate his aesthetic into a 3D environment. "I think that interactive element really challenges part of what a lot of people think about when they think about The Funhouse, which is the Instagram element," he says. "I didn't want it to be just a quick Instagram throwaway moment. I've made it quite hard for people to get their Instagram moment as well," he says. "I don't have a problem with it, but I didn't want it to be disposable. I want you to take a little bit more away from it."

Amanda Parris sits down with artist Paul Jackson outside of his room at The Funhouse (CBC Arts)

The space was built to be a temporary exhibition, but there's some good news if you like your art scary... the space will be morphing into "The Funhouse - A Haunted Experience" on October 9th, just in time for an art-filled Halloween. 

Experience The Funhouse and more...

In this week's episode of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, host Amanda Parris explores The Funhouse and brings us more stories including a tattoo artist pushing boundaries, a painter capturing the Canadian landscape with traditional Chinese techniques, a drag artist inspired by video game technology and we'll find out how the brightest colour palette is helping an abstract painter.

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists now on CBC Gem or watch it on CBC-TV Fridays at 11:30 p.m. (12 a.m. NT), or Sundays at 3:30 p.m. (4 p.m. NT)

now