What Immersive Art Experiences in NYC Can Teach Us About Psychology

The Psychology Behind the Mind-Bending Art in NYC at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

how to find artistic experience in new york city

Art has long held a unique power to evoke emotions, influence thought, shift social paradigms, and impact the consciousness of the individual. But when the individual is incorporated into the art, that unique power of artistic expression grows in its intensity. By creating a deeper level of engagement with the piece and allowing people to interact with the artwork in more personal and meaningful ways, the depth of every emotion is enhanced.


SUMMIT One Vanderbilt gives you the chance to have this perspective-altering experience. Its interactive exhibits place you at the center of the art, transporting you to beautiful, exhilarating, and unfamiliar places. How it does this can be explained with psychology.


Essentially, a multisensory experience is any experience that is informed by several distinct, complementary sensations. When such experiences are used in art, the psychological effect can be powerful.


The reason for this all comes down to the human mind and how it functions. In fact, several psychological theories are devoted to explaining the effects of immersive art experiences on a person’s mental state. The theory of embodied cognition, for example, suggests that thoughts and emotions are closely tied to physical sensations and movements. With immersive art, being surrounded by the work can have a profound effect on how someone perceives and responds to the piece.


Then, there’s the concept of presence. When immersed in a work of art, the experience creates a heightened level of interactivity and cognitive engagement. The individual suddenly feels as if they’ve been transported into an entirely new environment. That sense of realism makes the art all the more real, eliciting responses like joy or serenity. Layer in lighting, music, and other sensory cues, and the emotional impact increases exponentially.


Today, the psychology of immersive art is a rapidly growing field that seeks to understand the ways in which such experiences can influence thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how artists and designers can use these insights to create more engaging and meaningful experiences for the individual.


Of course, how the individual responds to an immersive art experience in NYC isn’t always the same. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt can certainly attest to that. The monumental part of the Air exhibit at SUMMIT, Transcendence I and II, for one, can create feelings of thrill and amazement when you enter an almost structureless realm of reflection and illusorily infinite space.


These feelings of excitement can easily turn to joy and playfulness as you move into Affinity — or the “ballroom,” as guests affectionately call it — with its floating silver orbs, colorful lights, and breathtaking views. It offers a whimsical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city below. People have been heard saying, “It felt like a rush of adrenaline, with the thrill of being at the top of one of the city’s tallest buildings.”


In contrast to the excitement and joy of both these exhibits, Clouds, Yayoi Kusama’s reflective, floor-spanning sculpture, makes you feel a sense of connection and empathy with the artwork and the artist, encouraging you in turn to reflect on your own experiences and feelings. The same can be said for the outdoor terraces at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, where stunning panoramic views have left some guests feeling a sense of peace, while others find themselves in awe or wonder. Seen from this height, the vastness of the cityscape can spark a sense of amazement. It’s truly an unmatched immersive sensory experience of NYC.


The architectural design of the building itself should be regarded as a work of art: Viewed from above, it resembles flower petals opening up to the sky. The building’s soaring height and distinctive shape can create a sense of drama, while the expansive views from the “observation deck” offer a sense of openness and connection to the city. SUMMIT and its art and exhibits have been designed to elicit a range of emotions and sensory experiences in NYC, from the thrilling to the reflective — and everything in between.


What you feel is entirely unique to you. One person reflected on the immersive art installation by saying, “It felt like being a bird soaring above the city, with nothing but the sky and skyline in sight.” Another said, “It felt like a moment of reflection and introspection, with a sense of peace and calm at the top of the tower.”


From the moment you exit Rise, where stimuli are reduced to prepare you for the rest of the experience, you encounter a myriad of new and mind-bending sensations. You emerge into a boundless, structureless world that has its own relationship with physics and time. The experience continues to evolve further in, becoming more interactive and playful as you start to connect physically with the space. Immersed in the art of mirrors, floating orbs, and portals, you can’t help but feel like you’re moving through an entirely different universe.


The sky-high canvas of SUMMIT creates one of the largest, most mind-bending cultural and multisensory experiences in NYC. Stay long enough, and the magic of Air takes new forms with the setting sun as dramatic waves of color electrify Transcendence and Affinity, turning SUMMIT One Vanderbilt into a beacon of light and energy, visible to all of NYC and beyond.

When you enter SUMMIT One Vanderbilt with this knowledge, everything takes on a new meaning. The raw emotions evoked throughout your visit acquire greater significance when you have an informed appreciation of the mind-bending art and the views. All you have to do now is immerse yourself in the experience.