I visited the Escher museum in The Hague last year, immersing myself in 3 floors of his drawings. His mathematical sense of space and impeccable creations of worlds that could only exist in a tessellated universe conjured in me the notion of a 4th dimension.
Following the successful ArT=Mixx “Abstract” at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center,the theme of the next ArT=Mixx was announced to a room of artists as “Black and White”, and I could swear, the producer of the show, gave me a smirk-full side glance. No Colorbox, no color. In comes, projection mapping.
Essentially, we had 6 weeks to create our first projection mapped performance: meaning (1). design and build a set and (2). learn new software. All in addition to producing artwork that told a story.
First the set: Inspired by the now famous Amon Toben ISAM performance, we built a set of “crystal towers”, 8 in total, all of varying sizes but sharing the essential shape of two front vertical walls at 90 degrees to eachother and a top surface facing towards the projector.
Second, the software: MC Escher arrived on my computer screen continuously as I googled for black and white imagery. To understand how thrilled I was to discover new dimensions of Escher’s work as I re-mapped his impossible objects and tesselated worlds onto three dimensional crystal towers, it helps to understand how projection mapping is a completely new medium.
The possibilities are limitless. At the facing corners, three surfaces converge to a single point, those corners suddenly become highly activated. This was different than a painting or video, this was sculpting. The artistic real estate value at the corners skyrocketed. Each polygon I stretched, I was amazed at how the converging points would change the entire piece based on a few pixel movements.
The ways to approach projection mapping are vast:
- create the same image on all surfaces
- cast one image across everything
- put the entire source image on to all the left facing surfaces as you see the grid used in the picture
- a true mathematician could tell you the exponential possibilities… (Surfaces * Angles * Prisms * Sources)
Enter: Sparkles the Unicorn
“MC Escher vs. Sparkles the Unicorn” played at ArT=Mixx July 28th, 2012 hosted by the Maui Arts And Cultural Center.
Sparkles: Scott Provonsha
Design and Build of “Crystal Towers”:
Jaisy Hanlon jaisyhanlon.com
Josh Meredith tornadohousefilm.com
Art=Mixx Event Production:
Hardware: on projector 40,000 lumen Christie
And for the short video of the entire event, thank you Reece Pottorff:
 Projection Mapping is the practice of sculpting video content to match the surface geometry it’s being projected on. Imagine instead of a projection screen, a cube with surfaces facing the projector at varying angles, with the computer calculating distortion within polygons to create stunning effects.
The essence of projection mapping is outlining the perspective that the projector has of the stage. In the screencapture at left, what you see is a simple model of 3 connected solids with flat surfaces (technically three interconnected Irregular Rectangular Prisms). Every rectangle created on the left source image is broadcast in the correct proportions to any shaped polygon you create on the right image (representing the projected output).