New forms of lighting, optics, connectivity and computer technologies have enabled artists to use the outdoors and other unusual settings as a new kind of canvass for their artwork. Sometimes called projection mapping, here are some of the more interesting examples:
- Last year, a New York studio, http://www.integratedvisions.net/Case_DUMBO2012.html, projected video art work on 30,000 continuous square feet of the underside of the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, New York.
- PaintScaping (http://www.paintscaping.com) is one of the more imaginative firms creating this kind of art. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYxOuRUQQdg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vO8f1TT7zVc . Perhaps because they are based in southern California, their work has more of a movie feel to it rather than a painting. While their aim is to create “new environments that connect emotionally with [an] audience”, they too are using the cityscape as the backdrop for their artwork.
- There are many examples from Europe of the use of a building facade as a sort of movie screen. One of my favorites is the waltz that the Vienna Tourist bureau projected on a building facade in London. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwOs5cU8HiQ
- The artist, Leo Villareal, was commissioned to create The Bay Lights. He placed more than 25,000 LEDs on the cables of the 1.8 mile, 500 foot tall San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to create a dynamic image on the bridge at night. You can see what this looks like at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=blgjUb6wg5s The "exhibition” was started a few weeks ago and is expected to last for two more years. (The length of this project is one of its unusual aspects. Often these digital art shows are one-time events.)
These are wonderful works of art. BUT – all of these are expressions of art in a city, merely using the cityscape as the surface upon which an unrelated piece of artwork is laid. These are not fully integrated with the city and don’t transform the city itself into art.
When I’ve spoken to audiences about the blending of physical and virtual space, I’ve had something much more ambitious in mind – the creation of new destinations and new experiences in a city which are attractive because they combine what’s there with virtual capabilities.
This blending also provides residents and visitors a way of stretching and replicating time and space in the city. Imagine showing in a location at night what it looked like in the morning or six months ago. Imagine showing what is happening in another part of the city – particularly useful if you want those embarking trains or planes to learn of an event taking place elsewhere.
Think about augmenting reality not through a smartphone camera or fancy glasses, but by augmenting reality in its place. I’m certainly not alone is seeing the potential. In his article “Augmented Reality Will Make Boring Cities Beautiful” [http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/cities/video-how-8216augmented-reality-will-make-boring-cities-beautiful/691] Christopher Mims notes that:
“Once augmented reality is widespread, the difference between a great and a mediocre city won’t just be its built environment. To some extent, it will also be the degree to which that environment is a suitable tapestry for the creatives who will paint it with their augmented reality brush. Digital artists who learn to re-appropriate the city with the most innovative augmented reality add-ons won’t just bring themselves fame and fortune — they’ll also be attracting others to the places they love.”
Next week I’ll share a few examples of what has already been started.
© 2013 Norman Jacknis