British company Seeper recently brought New York traffic to a standstill with animated projections dissolving the facades of the IAC building. Permanent installations might be the next step, says founder Evan Grant.
Projection mapping has established itself as a new medium, rising in popularity over the last year. Emerging from the fast-developing intersection between technology and the arts it architecturally maps buildings to create 3D projection experiences. Projection mapping challenges perceptions by distorting, transforming and reinterpreting the structure and physical reality of the building, using light and shadow to create the illusion of depth.
We recently collaborated with the video-sharing platform Vimeo on its first film festival and awards show in New York, for which we built two projection mapping performances.
Inside the awards venue we constructed a sculptural stage set consisting of various extruded and stacked cubic and rectangular forms onto which the entire show was projected. Using a custom piece of software, developed in OpenFrameworks, Seeper was able to control the lighting, sound and visuals of the entire theatre.
Then, working with a 3D model provided by the architect, we created a 3D projection mapping art piece that paid homage to Frank Gehry’s IAC building, headquarters of Vimeo’s parent company. Immediately after the awards show the audience took a short walk to the building, which acted as an awe-inspiring canvas for the opening of the festival after party.
Working in harmony with a custom-designed music score, we used the form of the structure, down to the lines of the windows and gradient of the glass, as our inspiration and canvas. To our delight, on the first play of the performance we managed to stop the traffic on the six-lane highway that runs alongside.
Large-scale architectural mapping projects are currently the preserve of a small group of people, mainly within Europe. At the moment they are typically commissioned by brands for use in promotions. While these projects are completely absorbing in the flesh, they captivate a larger audience as viral videos online.
As technology becomes an omnipresent part of architectural design, the possibilities for adaptive and responsive spaces become reality. For now we will continuie to use digital technology as a stopgap to a truly organic living architecture. It’s hard to predict the future of projection mapping, but it seems plausible that it will begin to merge with augmented reality technologies. Building on the temporary transformation that projection mapping enables, we see a future where buildings are able to sympathetically respond to the desires and behaviours of their inhabitants.
AT213/ November 10, p20