Wolfgang Tillmans' work is, without doubt, best experienced in person.

The often autobiographical, and at times political, artist has an oeuvre of two-dimensional photographic pieces. In his most recent exhibition, 2017, we see Tillmans breaking out of this photographic mould. Table tops serve as installation platforms to curate photographs, articles, objects and drawings that present differing versions of 'truth'.

At a time when 'fake news' is discussed daily by the media, the exhibit's Truth Study Center, started in 2005, is poignant. Using wood, glass and mixed media - the eccentric miscellany of material featured share one important quality: they emphasise the need to question what is "real" more urgently than ever.

The online iteration of Truth Study Center, produced by design duo Nate van der Ende and Johanna Lundberg, is an interactive experience hosted by the Tate with navigable imagery, video, personal anecdotes and narration on the work provided by Wolfgang Tillmans himself.

Interestingly in the past year we've seen other institutions such as the Royal Academy, Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art also digitizing elements of key exhibitions. Although not the real thing by any stretch of the imagination, for those unable to visit in person it's often a satisfying substitute.

In the wake of Truth Study Center we spoke to Nate van der Ende and Johanna Lundberg about the power of immersive technologies to expand digital experiences in the art world.


How would you describe your work?

A graphic designer for print and digital and a digital designer/developer with a background in illustration and print design, we tend to rebel against our print background when making something digital. We aim to create something that simply could not exist in a printed form.

Working in tandem throughout all our projects, visual design and the user experience go hand-in-hand. We rarely produce flat designs that are set in stone before development begins.

The development of the Studying Truth project must have had a great combination of skill, input and identity. Can you describe the work process behind the digital installation? How involved was Wolfgang Tillmans with the curation of the interactive piece?

We were approached by Tate Digital with a really tight deadline and a fairly well-formed idea of what they wanted. Tillmans creates these tables in his studio as a way of organising his thoughts on a particular subject so the table already existed as a physical piece. Our job was to piece together the puzzle of captions, visuals and audio to execute the richest possible online experience.

What do you hope an audience takes away from the digital experience?

The table featured in the digital piece was created to give those unable to visit the show in person at the Tate Modern, an opportunity to enjoy Tillmans' work. However, we feel that even if you are able to visit the show in person, the interactive piece offers an added depth through Tillmans' personal commentary.

Whose idea was it to create an interactive digital installation of the exhibition? And could you share a bit about the rationale behind the desire / need for a supporting immersive digital experience?

The digital team at Tate approached us after developing the concept with Wolfgang Tillmans and the exhibition curators. They were keen to find an easy way to communicate the rich ideas and rationale behind his work. The 2017 exhibition at the Tate Modern has extremely limited explanatory text as Tillmans was keen for people to experience the art without the distraction of words, but with such complex issues explored, particularly in the Truth Study Center series, this was a way of communicating artistic process.

With Royal Academy (Ai Weiwei's 360), MoMA and of course yourselves for the Tate using immersive technologies to expand digital experiences in the art world, do you feel that these are helping with providing better accessibility to exhibitions and playing a role in the wider democratisation of art?

Visiting these shows at large art institutions often comes at a substantial entry fee, or more often than not, the exhibition will be confined to one city. With this in mind, digital experiences are definitely opening up exhibitions to a larger audience. We do, however, believe that the digital experiences will never replace real-life experiences as artwork on a smartphone, desktop or tablet is mediated by the screen.

What we find most compelling, is leveraging digital as a dynamic additional layer where one gets the opportunity to hear more directly from the directors, the artists - it offers a different perspective on the work.

For more information on the interactive installation, head here.