3D art is one thing – but what if you made a full building the canvas? A few 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.
We've picked our favourite examples of projection mapping that you must see, ranging from O2's stunning rose, to micro projections on the petals of a flower, to an incredible display the full height of the Sagrada Familia.
01. O2's Wear the Rose
In September 2015, O2 joined forces with Projection Artworks to create the world's largest projection mapping project and celebrate the Rugby World Cup. Making use of 68 projectors and more than 122 moving head light fixtures, the roof of the venue was transformed into the English rose emblem. According to O2, the show could be seen from space.
02. Harrods' Fabergé egg
Projection Artworks was also part of the team that created the world’s brightest projection mapping show in Easter 2015. As we reported, global design consultancy JUSTSO collaborated with Projection Artworks to illuminate the windows of world-famous department store Harrods.
Conceived for Fabergé's Easter storefront display, the 360-degree mapped 3D installation is based on the company's pendent designs – which are 1/100th of the size of the 1.5m model – and incorporates an interactive touchscreen element to showcase the detail of the jewellery.
This video from Bot & Dolly was created without any special effects. As the performer engages with a morphing set, unfathomable shapes, graphics and animations are revealed. As the video continues, we're eventually shown that it is in fact, a robotic mechanism hidden behind every illusion.
Using their state of the art robotic camera systems 'Iris' and 'Scout', the technique allows for millimeter precision of the robot arms. Read more about the incredible project here.
04. Battersea Power Station Annual Party
Battersea Power Station invited Drive, a UK-based agency that specialises in projection mapping, to create an awe-inspiring visual experience to raise awareness for the iconic building's spectacular redevelopment. This is the result: 360,000 lumens of immersive visuals celebrating the building's past, present and future.
05. Tokyo Station Vision
[Projection starts at 4:20]
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.
06. The 600 Years
When Prague's famous Astronomical Clock turned 600, The Macula and 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.
07. Hyper Matrix Cube Wall
Not content with mere projection mapping, Korean art group JônPaSang 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:
Next page: more mind-bending projection mapping art!