Digital Art in Casinos: The Hippodrome and Thomas D. Gray

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Casinos have gained a particular reputation as gaudy places that lack charm. This thought is generally made out of ignorance. After all, many people don’t know the extensive history of casino development, starting in Europe with the Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco.

Gambling has long, international origins, from hanafuda cards in Japan to the start of the first national public lottery in England, created by Queen Elizabeth I. Newer institutions and businesses have been developing since then, transforming public attitudes towards casinos for the better. 

Thomas D. Gray, a digital artist, has developed the historic Hippodrome Casino into a place like none other with his 57-screen digital art installation.

The digital landscape has heavily impacted the casino industry. The internet, television sets, and computer technology have changed the way visitors play games at, learn about,and even interact with casinos. United Kingdom casino expert Ella Houghton imagines a future world using cryptocurrency as chips and virtual reality headsets to make live bets.

Technological Development in Casinos

Before you can appreciate the work of Thomas D. Gray, you have to understand the effect of technological development on it. 

The casino experience is different now. Digital slot machines now replace mechanical ones. Nowadays, the best medium volatility slots are accessible online from both your home and at a casino. 

Land-based casinos now have to use new strategies to attract consumers. Customer service and customer experience are driving their development. Resort experiences are common in places like Las Vegas, Nevada, and Macau, China. 

However, the Hippodrome Casino in London, which hired Thomas D. Gray, has taken a different approach.

The Historic Hippodrome Turns a New Chapter

The term “Hippodrome” has historical roots in ancient Greece, a place where people raced horses. While horse racing has long roots in British culture, the Hippodrome inspires a new type of gambling. 

Thomas D. Gray, founder and creative director of The Gray Circle, was hired by The Hippodrome as an in-house digital artist in 2013. He maintains and actively develops video installations of a grand scale, combining gambling and aesthetics to create a historical experience like none other. Paintings of historical figures and burlesque dancers come to life, matching the designs of casino events and the building’s architecture.

Using the resources and knowledge he has gained running The Gray Circle, Gray sets up spectacles of lights using digital video screens and projections. The work in the Hippodrome is spread out amongst four floors, covering three entire walls with 57 plasma screens. Here, you will see incredible creations come to life, all while playing classic casino games.

Live video installation is constantly playing throughout the casino, showing off videos of sharks, roulette wheels, and neon lights. Videos of clowns play during the ever-popular “Cabaret Circus.” Don’t be scared when a ghost randomly appears behind your mirror in an alleyway at the Lola’s Underground Casino area.

Furthermore, Gray has developed a video installation to match the environment of the Atrium Casino. This instalment features life-sized holograms in cages, which interact with live showgirls during nightly shows. 

 A Continuation in Tradition, an Evolution in Art

When speaking about art in a modern sense, many people draw conclusions that its sole purpose is to deconstruct concepts and ideas into the most simple terms. The work Gray has done serves a more practical sense, which is greatly valuable to the visitors of the Hippodrome. This sparks a considerable debate that’s common among art enthusiasts: how does populism fit into art?

The Hippodrome has always embraced the artistic tastes of the mass audience, not the niche art crowd. Light shows and holograms are technologically impressive and shock visitors. There is immense value in people understanding the purpose and being engaged with live art. 

The Hippodrome made many firsts for both the Anglosphere and Western Europe when it comes to living performances. In 1909, the first English performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake took place at the Hippodrome’s theatre. Even an 11-year-old Charlie Chaplin performed the venue’s first pantomime performance.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t be too surprising if we publicly recognised the achievement of Thomas D. Gray in the future. In the meantime, we can  admire the digitalisation of the overall art scene. 

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