Seemingly celestial dwelling enigma David Bowie, the man who fell to earth for our eternal wonderment, enlightenment, and on certain days reason to live, was always looking to the grandiosity of the very Heavens (and everything under them) for inspiration. As we were once again reminded this week – which for many will forever be “Bowie Week,” as it commemorates the Starman’s birthday (the 8th), his death (the 10th), and release of his final album Blackstar (also the 8th).
Fitting then, that his virtual reality debut should also occur during this week.
Based on the record-breaking exhibit that first opened at London’s V&A Museum in 2013, and subsequently attracted over 2 million visitors on its 12-city worldwide tour, the lofty ambition of the newly released David Bowie Is Real app was to recreate as much as possible the comprehensive collection of Bowie’s art, music, fashion, and ephemera that were exhibited – and make it look thrilling on a really tiny screen.
Gary Oldman narrating David Bowie Is Real, image by Hideo Oida
Bowie + Gary Oldman, image by Floria Sigismondi
The augmented reality app (an incredible bargain at just $7.99) is a virtual and absolutely stunning walk through the exhibition, featuring 38 songs, 56 costumes, plus photos, lyric sheets, paintings, sketches – and for obscurantists, even some items that were not seen in the original V&A show. And as it turns out, Bowie’s oeuvre dazzles just as readily in compressed form.
Besides the obvious excitement and allure of being able to rummage around in Bowie’s world at our leisure, and unbothered by hundreds of fellow museum goers, narration for the experience is delivered by fellow South Londoner, and all-around artistic genius in his own right Gary Oldman. We’ve loved Oldman from the get, astonishing in roles as diverse as Sid Vicious, Lee Harvey Oswald, Beethoven, and then finally winning a 2018 Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. He and Bowie worked together on the film Basquiat and in the video for DB’s “The Next Day.”
“Bowie Week” brings many mixed emotions, the sadness of loss and the joy of his life-altering influence among them. The new app, above all, will serve as a daily reminder of Bowie’s unparalleled contributions to modern art, fashion and, of course, music.