Art exhibition at Phoenix Square, in Leicester, is target of thieves
The future of an art exhibition has been thrown into doubt after thieves stole computers which were its centrepiece.
The three iPads were the centrepieces of the show, which is called the Secret Garden, at Phoenix Square, in Leicester city centre.
Police believe two people posing as art enthusiasts visited the exhibition last Friday and stole the three iPads.
The show has closed until further notice as the computers were described by the artist as "irreplaceable".
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The artist, Professor Martin Rieser, who lectures at Leicester's De Montfort University, said singers, dancers, composers and computer programmers had put hundreds of hours of work into the piece.
Professor Rieser said: "There is a risk with such seductive equipment that this will happen.
"There is no difference between this and thieves melting down priceless bronzes for small change.
"This was really advanced hybrid art, doing what had never been done before on these devices with responsive virtual reality."
The piece was created with 11 iPads and each one acted as a viewer on which visitors were able to see a pair of computer-generated figures dancing and singing in a variety of landscapes.
The show opened on Monday, September 10, and was due to run until the end of the month.
A Phoenix spokesman said: "The theft was spotted quickly and reported to the police.
"This is the first time since Phoenix opened nearly three years ago that an arts exhibition has been affected in this way.
"There is no long-term damage and the Phoenix's full programme of arts exhibitions will be resumed as soon as possible."
John Rance, chief executive of the venue, said: "Phoenix is open as usual and another excellent exhibition by the same artist is continuing in the Phoenix café.
"From Kampala to Leicester tells the stories of Asians who resettled in Leicester after being expelled from Uganda through digital images and an interactive audio trail to New Walk Museum."
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman confirmed the theft, which is believed to have happened in the early afternoon on Friday, was under investigation.