10 projection mapping demos that will blow your mind!

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Five years ago video projection mapping was a fledgling artform, with a handful of noteworthy examples. Now, no building opening, product launch, award ceremony, or birthday party worth its salt would be seen without a head-turning projection. Video projection mapping has the capacity to transform any object into a screen. Forget flat projection, as projection mapping has the ability to take a real-world object, such as a building, and project onto its walls without any distortion. Events combine motion graphics, 3D animation, and an occasional dash of video that playfully highlights, deconstructs, rotates, recontextualises and generally manipulates a building’s usual geometry. Often site-specific, the best work enhances rather than effaces the architecture it’s projected onto. The sheer scale can be breathtaking and the illusion of everyday and static objects around us becoming animate and playfully reworked can be incredibly exciting. Just look at the expressions on the audience’s faces during a projection and you see an almost childlike glee.

01. Tokyo Station Vision

JR East celebrates the opening of the reconditioned Tokyo Station with a spectacular projection mapping experiment by NHK Enterprise. Brickwork peels away to reveal pistons; clockwork automata strum pilasters while trumpets and cymbals blow and crash from behind bays; at one point a route-map inscribes itself across the facade like a 150m long game of Snake. This is a great projection, sympathetic not only to the architectonics of the building, but its function too.

02. The 600 Years

When Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock turned 600, The Maculaand Tomato Productions created a projection mapping for the tower celebrating its history. Starting with the architect’s plans, the animation charts the construction of the clock and key moments in Prague’s history. The final effect is part spectacle, part documentary and a brilliant executed combination of medieval architecture and modern technology.

03. Hyper Matrix Cube Wall

Not content with mere projection mapping, Korean art groupJônPaSang created 8m x 45m walls made from hundreds of motorised Styrofoam blocks for a Hyundai Motor Group pavilion. Each foot-square cube is capable of independent motion to create patterns, pictures, and animations in relief. That’s not all, Hyper-Matrix uses 180 degree projection interacting with the blocks, and light effects that track and coalesce around the audience. Watch this! Making-of video.

04. Speed of Light

Not all projection mapping examples can be measured in metres. The Theory‘s personal project Speed of Light bills itself as the worlds smallest all action police chase. Using hand-held micro projectors with an iPhone video source, Tom Jenkins and Simon Sharp create a dynamic and witty film on the surface of their own office that proves size isn’t everything.

05. As Above, So Below

Light Harvest assembled a whole team of artists for this unusual mapping for Manhattan Bridge. The animation makes great use of the heavily rusticated facade of the bridge but where it really shines is in the tunnels underneath. The entire curved ceiling becomes animated, when entering the tunnel the audience becomes immersed in the projection.

06. Willow – ‘Sweater’

Using two walls, a treadmill, and some nifty projection, director Filip Sterckx creates a virtual world for the Willow‘s latest music video. As with most projection mapping it’s the technique that charms here. Singer Pieter-Jan Van Den Troost gropes at doors that aren’t really there, trots on the spot down imaginary stairs, and kneels pretending to be paddling in the sea. It’s all surprisingly lo-tech, and all the better for it. Watch this! Making-of video.

07. Sydney Opera House

Jørn Utzon’s inspiration for Sydney Opera House’s iconic shell roof is brought to life in this work by Urban Screen. The roofs appear as fabric, undulating in the wind. The distinctive chevron tiles – a labour of love for Utzon – pulse, fold, and rupture to reveal the rich interiors. All of Urban Screen’s projections are worth watching, particularly Tag und Nacht for its clever interplay between in the interior and exterior, and the seminal 555 Kubik.

08. Scintillation

Jørn Utzon’s inspiration for Sydney Opera House’s iconic shell roof is brought to life in this work by Urban Screen. The roofs appear as fabric, undulating in the wind. The distinctive chevron tiles – a labour of love for Utzon – pulse, fold, and rupture to reveal the rich interiors. All of Urban Screen’s projections are worth watching, particularly Tag und Nacht for its clever interplay between in the interior and exterior, and the seminal 555 Kubik.

09. Omicron

One of the few permanent installations in this list, Omicron can be seen at the Hala Stulecia museum of Architecture in Wroclaw, Poland. The minimalist aesthetic takes its inspiration from the period in which the dome was built and does an incredible job of highlighting its structural qualities, making the heavy concrete construction light and dynamic.

10. Sagrada Familia (Ode à la vie)

Gaudi’s plans for a polychrome facade on the Sagrada Familia have been realised, albeit only for 15 minutes. Moment Factory combined video projection, gobos, sharp beam lights projecting beams into the sky, and lighting from the interior to create a spectacle they describe as a, “living fresco made of colour, light and sound”. To work with the complex geometry of the cathedral a 3D scan was used to help map and light a show that works with the host architecture in brilliant symbiosis. Watch this! Making-of video.

© 2016 slim larnaout