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Discover The Unreal Garden, a new psychedelic wonderland on Market Street

Written by
Jen Woo

This winter, take a step into the Upside-Down—albeit a lush, beautiful one. Immersive media company Onedome has transformed a 20,000 square foot space on Market Street into a jungle paradise complete with moving waterfalls, forest creatures, and eight installations from nine different artists hailing from the around the world. 

Stepping through the double doors into The Unreal Garden's lobby is a far departure from bustling Market Street outside. On the left is a flowing stream, an owl suspended in flight over a bear, and a hobbit house, all lit from within. In the next room, two dragons guard portals to a waiting area with interactive installations—including a Tilt Brush lounge where users can create original virtual artwork—that guests can play while they wait to enter the main garden. If you'd like to enhance your experience, you can head to the Elixart pop-up bar serving delicious mocktails and snacks—there’s no need for booze at this already trippy experience.

Photograph: Jen Woo

 Once you don your AR glasses and enter The Unreal Garden, you're greeted with a virtual Eden of real and imagined plants, trees, boulders, rock paths, and small-scale habitations. The digital art experience integrates four layers of reality—physical, spatial-sound, 2D/3D projection mapping, and augmented reality—so users can interact with the exhibit—walking in, under, around, and through each piece as it shifts, grows and disappears in what looks like a kaleidoscope of cellular adaptation. Speckled throughout the grounds are frogs with small orbs above their heads; hold up your finger to see sparkles pop up around your finger and touch the glowing spheres to watch your environment change. Get a good look before you use your new powers though, so you can notice the transformation.

Photograph: Courtesy The Unreal Garden

Never-before-seen works by digital painter Android Jones, artist John Park, sculptor Jasmine Pradissitto, abstract artist Andy Thomas and collaborative conceptual art duo Shuster + Moseley come to life as part of the mind-altering journey. See a massive flower bloom, a hummingbird flitting overhead, and jellyfish dancing in midair, and then get a little closer to take it in from all angles. Walk in and out of glowing creatures and flowering flora and fauna to enter the inner workings of the Garden. It’s a mind trip that takes you outside of yourself. At the end, you’ll even get a photo in the center of all the magic —after all, can you really have fun without being able to show it off on the 'Gram?

The Unreal Garden is the first in Onedome's series of location-based entertainment destinations, with 10 more planned over five years across the U.S. The current exhibit holds 25 people at once and takes about 25 minutes to explore. In December, The Unreal Garden will be expanding with a second experience called LMNL, downstairs. 

The Unreal Garden is at 1025 Market Street through November 30; $22–$37. 

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