Golden highlights: success of filmmaker’s Gustav Klimt virtual reality experience

Golden highlights: success of filmmaker’s Gustav Klimt virtual reality experience

Klimt’s Magic Garden, a virtual reality experience created by filmmaker and academic Dr Frederick Baker, proved so popular in the artist’s Austrian homeland that its run was extended by nearly six months.

The experience, which eventually ran from February until early October in Vienna’s MAK (Museum of Applied Arts), is also now being staged at a leading arts centre in Brussels.

Timed to coincide with the centenary of the Gustav Klimt’s death this year, Klimt’s Magic Garden is a virtual reality tour for which Fred (OE 1976–1983) was inspired by the series of three mosaics that the Art Nouveau doyen created for the Stoclet Palace, also in Brussels. To produce the experience, Fred used high-resolution digital photographic material to create a rich, shimmering virtual paradise.

Born in Salzburg but brought up in London, Fred studied Anthropology and Archaeology at St John’s College, Cambridge, Tübingen and Sheffield universities and went on to gain a PhD from Cambridge in 2009. He now lives in Vienna and London.

Fred was a Producer Director for the BBC, working for the corporation from 1994 to 2006. He is the owner of the Austrian film company, Filmbäckerei, and a College Research Association at the Centre for Film and Screen Media, Wolfson College, Cambridge.

He returned to St John’s in 2014 to create a hugely atmospheric screening of the film classic The Third Man, which became the first film ever to be mapped on to the college’s Bridge of Sighs.

A specialist in Austrian cinema, he has published extensively on The Third Man – the Carol Reed-directed film starring Orson Welles, which was set in Vienna and used a screenplay by Graham Greene, who had also written it as a novella. As well as examining the film for his doctorate, Fred made a 90-minute documentary about its making, entitled Shadowing The Third Man.

He is also the founder of Cambridge’s annual international research symposium, Picturing Austrian Cinema, and has lectured at universities in Weimar and Berlin as well as at Middlesex University. The winner of numerous awards at film festivals from Cannes to Hollywood, Fred has made acclaimed documentaries on subjects including Stalin and Rebuilding the Reichstag (about the reconstruction of the German parliament building overseen by the architect, Norman Foster).

Klimt’s Magic Garden, which is experienced using virtual reality headsets, runs at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (also known as BOZAR) in Brussels until 20th January 2019. A sample of the experience is available on YouTube.