by CultureSystem | August 20th, 2010
One quiet night a couple weeks back, a warehouse in the Morgan area lit up in the still night, its facade changing at the whim of a couple of artists. Using a technique called projection mapping, or architectural mapping, a duo called Integrated Visions coated the face of the structure with images from a powerful projector, tailoring their content to the particularities of the building’s shape and angles.
In projection mapping, a veejay will use a software program (sometimes written from scratch) to map out where exactly an image from a video projector will shine, controlling multiple streams of visuals on one surface.
The mapping movement is more popular overseas with most of its prominent figures coming from Europe, and these two have never actually seen another architectural mapping project in person themselves. “I’m really curious,” says Bryan Dodson, one half of the married pair. “We were inspired by the work of AntiVJ andMJ. Both of those artists were really ahead of the game when it comes to mapping.”
This may have something to do with cost. The projector they used in Bushwick (which was rented) retails for over $120,000 and required a generator to be powered. It uses the energy equivalent of five traditional Par can stage lights. “Your average rock show stage has at least 30 Par can,” Dodson explains. Outside of art, companies are using the technique in public advertising.
But veejaying itself is also significantly underrepresented on the East Coast, says Dodson, who’s also a moderator at VJForums.com. “There are not many active veejays in the North East on the VJ forums.” In fact, the duo is based in Georgia, and came to Brooklyn at the request of Brian Blessinger of PercussionLab.com. (There was, however, a video mapping project here last year — albeit at at a much smaller scale — when Faune premiered their pyramid video sculpture.)
The two started veejaying back in 2001, moving away from painting into the scene with no real programing skills. “We had a basic understanding of computers at the time, but not really much experience with digital media at all,” recalls Michelle Penland Dodson. “We had put a lot of energy and passion into drawing and painting… When we became interested in working with video we focused our energy into learning the software and video equipment that would allow us to create our vision with video.”
They felt limited in painting and got into veejaying in order to collaborate with musicians. This realm now satisfies their creative needs and they no longer paint. “Painting seemed very isolated and elitist,” says Bryan Dodson. “I would spend lots of time by myself in a studio to produce art that none of my friends could afford to buy. With veejaying, many people get to enjoy my art every weekend.”
Currently, they have a projection mapping installation at a club in Macon, Georgia, called Asylum. “The club is open every weekend and an associate of ours operates the video for their events,” Michelle Dodson explains. That setup uses six projectors that display a seamless strip of video around the club. It comes with exclusive high definition content which the operator manipulates in play with the music and other lighting. (Watch this video for a peak behind the scenes showing how it’s run.) To see more of the Dodsons’ projects, read their personal blog. And for more mapping from around the world, they run another blog which offers a number of impressive videos.