THE self-declared “multi-sensory experience” Van Gogh Alive has pitched up – in a large, white tent in Festival Square in Edinburgh – for a four-month residency. The work of a company called Grande Experiences, it is billed by its producers as a “truly unforgettable” event that is like “no ordinary art exhibition”.

The latter point is incontestably true, because there are, in fact, no art works in the show. What there is instead is a ­risible reconstruction of Van Gogh’s room in Arles, in southern France, which visitors are invited to enter to have their ­photograph taken. There is also a small, embarrassingly silly walk-through room consisting of mirrors and artificial ­sunflowers.

However, the pièce de résistance of the “experience” is the large, central space in which one is inundated by ­multiple ­projections of photographs of Van Gogh’s pictures, either in their entirety, in detail or, sometimes, with elements of the paintings animated. This supposedly “immersive” experience is achieved by the show’s much-vaunted SENSORY4™ technology (i.e. up to 40 projectors working in conjunction with surround sound).

What this means in practice is that the audience member stands in the large, tented gallery space while photographic reproductions of paintings from a given period of Van Gogh’s life (his time in ­Paris, for instance) are projected on to multiple screens around them. The ­images are intercut with quotes from Van Gogh, and screens on the floor flicker with related imagery, such as real life ­colour film of a wheat field.

The National: vangogh_mediacitymanchester_gemmaparkerphotography-18.

Meanwhile, short snippets from ­well-known pieces of classical music (such as the Flower Duet from Léo ­Delibes’s opera Lakmé, which was ­popularised in British Airways adverts) are played through the sound system.

We worry (do we not?) about young people being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of short burst images that ­internet culture bombards them with. Simply ­seeing lots of something for a brief time does not amount to a deep engagement with it. One is not so much “immersed” in the images as submerged by them.

This show’s rapid, 360-degree ­“immersion” in reproductions of the Dutch master’s paintings feels very much like Van Gogh for the TikTok ­generation. In one moment there are ­irises ­everywhere. Then, as suddenly as they arrived, they’re gone, and we’re on to another period in Van Gogh’s life.

I make the point about the ­images here being mere photographic ­reproductions for an important reason. Great though it is to have prints, posters, books and ­postcards in which art works are ­reproduced, we know that such ­reproductions are no substitute for ­seeing the original art work.

The reason for this is that no camera, no matter how advanced, can reproduce the visual effect created by the artist’s ­application of paint to canvas. Ironically, this is truer of Van Gogh’s work than it is of the pictures of most other painters.

The Dutchman’s paintings may seem infinitely reproducible due to their ­extraordinary use of colour and their ­vivid expressiveness. However, ­photographic reproductions of Van Gogh’s work ­cannot capture the ­physical passion with which he painted, and, ­indeed, the famously luxurious, even profligate, way in which he applied paint to canvas (sometimes directly from the tube).

Van Gogh Alive is marketed as a family show. If I wanted a child to get a sense of what makes Van Gogh the ­distinctive ­genius he is, I would far rather take them to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art ­Gallery and Museum to look at the artist’s ­wonderful portrait of the Scottish art dealer ­Alexander Reid.

There one can see in all its glory the swirling energy of the painter’s style and, indeed, the palpable pleasure he took in the physicality of the paint itself. Being up close with one of Van Gogh’s ­paintings is far more “immersive” – in visual, emotional and spiritual terms – than anything achieved by Grande ­Experiences’ 40 projectors.

The only sensible boast that the ­producers of Van Gogh Alive can make is that there are a lot of images. That is unquestionably true, but their show’s ­attitude to the work is deadening and conspicuously commercial.

It takes 45 minutes, the people at Grande Experiences tell me, to watch the entire “story” (such as it is) that is ­depicted in their show. In reality, so brief and, in technical terms, so repetitive are the various segments in their offering that you would do well to be in there for half-an-hour.

That’s not a lot of “entertainment” for the very considerable ticket prices that are being charged for the show. A brief visit to Van Gogh Alive will set you back £23 for an adult and £17.50 (including booking fee) for a child aged between five and 16 (that’s £81 for a typical family of four).

Compare that with the forthcoming exhibition of the actual art works of Barbara Hepworth (which opens at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art next month), which is priced at £14 for adults and £12 for children. Nor should we ­forget the programme for Van Gogh Alive (a glossy regurgitation of the ­material in the show), which is a steal at a tenner, or, indeed, the overpriced gift shop.

AS I left the press viewing of Van Gogh Alive I suddenly understood the rage of the parent who has shelled out for one of those notoriously terrible “Winter Wonderland experiences” at Christmas time. Having wound the children up into a frenzy of excitement, they arrive in a muddy field to find an unenthusiastic Santa puffing on a fag, standing next to a dejected reindeer with a broken antler.

This show might be slicker than that, but it is barely less transparent in its philistine, profiteering proclivities. Notably, in trying to entice audiences with the “stars” who attended the show’s opening night party in Edinburgh, Grande Experiences’ PR people could come up with no-one more famous, or discerning, than comedian Craig Hill.

Van Gogh Alive? If Vincent really was still with us, I suspect he would be fulminating against this shameless, and soulless, attempt to cash in on his name.

Van Gogh Alive as at Festival Square, Edinburgh until July 17: