Mapping and Melting

This semester I have two courses with conceptual frameworks that overlap. I’m taking a Media Installations course, and a course called New Systems Sculpture. Media Installations is an exploration of a number of different mediated environments, specially art installations in nature. This course deals with the issues of building playback systems that may be interactive, or may be self-contained. New Systems is taught through the art department, and is focused on sculpture and how video plays as an element in the creation of sculptured environments

This week in the Media Installations course each person was charged with mapping some environment or object with video. While the wikipedia entry on the subject is woefully lacking, the concept is becoming increasingly mainstream. The idea is to use a projector and to paint surfaces with light in a very precise way. In the case of this course, the challenge was to cover several objects with simultaneous video. 

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to map, and what I wanted to project, and was especially interested in using a zoetrope kind of effect in the process. I kept thinking back to late nights playing with Yooouuutuuube, and I wanted to create something that was loosely based on the kind of idea. To get started I found a video that I thought might be especially visually interesting for this process. My friend and colleague Mike Caulfield has a tremendously inspiring band called The Russian Apartments. The music he writes is both haunting and inspiring, an electronica ballad and call to action. It’s beautiful, and whenever I listen to a track it stays with me throughout the day. Their videos are equally interesting, and Gods, a video from 2011, kept coming back to me. 

To start I took the video and created a composition in AfterEffects with 16 versions of the video playing simultaneously. I then offset each video by 10 frames from the previous. The Effect is a kind of video lag that elongates time for the observer, creating strange transitions in both space and color. I then took this source video and mapped it to individual surfaces, creating a mapped set of objects all playing the same video with the delay. You can see the effect in the video below:

Meanwhile in my sculpture course we were asked to create a video of process art: continuous, no cuts, no edits. I spent a lot of time thinking about what to record, and could not escape some primal urge to record the destruction of some object. In that vein I thought it would be interesting do use a slow drip of acetone on styrofoam. Further, I wanted to light this with a projector. I decided to approach this by using the mapping project that I had already created, and instead to frame the observation of this action from a closer vantage point. Interestingly, Gods has several scenes where textures crumble and melt in a similar way to the acetone effect on the styrofoam. It wasn’t until after I was done shooting that I saw this similarity. You can see the process video below:

Tools Used:

Mapping – MadMapper
Media Generation – Adobe After Effects
Projector – InFocus IN2116 DLP Projector

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