An ice cold day to be in the warehouse that is the Vivid Projects space in Digbeth, for a Projection Mapping workshop – but it was definitely worth freezing for. We had a cat on a box that looked like it was auditioning for a silent horror film, other boxes brought to life with stripes of colour, a huge screen filled with Spirograph webs that decorated Antonio’s face, and a rainbow dancing on our heads. It was a great.
Antonio Roberts, expert in Digital-Art, took us through the array of connectors that bring computer and projector together, introduced us to what two pieces of software can do – and showed the mapping for projecting in action. An altogether excellent session.
Cat Mapping The first software we tried (installed in readiness for the session) was OBS, which can accommodate still images, videos, gif files and even a live feed of yourself, all on one screen. We had a go at doing this and it was reassuringly easy. All the above were on my computer screen – and I started to feel smug. Right up to connecting our computers to the High Definition (HD) Projector. Then my computer clammed up. I had to hold my hands over its ears as it was told it wasn’t up to the job. Not high enough spec to connect with a HD Projector. Alas. But fellow Fellows Emma Lannie and Julia Snowdin were able to project their screens, so I was able to see what could be done. And now I have the unpalatable but useful knowledge that I need to magic up a new computer if I’m to make the most of HD.
Next up was a demonstration of the Mapping software MapMap, projecting onto three vertical oblong boxes. This was very satisfying to see – the manipulating of images on the computer screen so that the boxes in the warehouse were covered with light, colour and a wide-eyed feline. Again, it looked like something that could be done without too much difficulty. And that is a great place to leave someone.
Aftermath So. Home. Itching to try it out on my own. I did. A few days later. Put an animation I had made of the Cullen Mural in Coventry Precinct on the source screen of the Mapping software. Manipulated it in the output screen. Ready to try out the projecting then.
Went to my friend Alan Van Wijgerden’s flat – Alan has a non-HD Projector. (Hurray for non-HD!). It was a beautiful day. Perfect for doing the washing. With Alan’s help troubleshooting and holding up a blanket over the kitchen window to make the room dark, I was able to projection map the animation onto the washing machine. Used a white plastic bag in the drum so you can see the image. It looks like the mural is being reinvented in the wash. I was very happy to see this modest first experiment with the mapping software. A small step I know. But it feels like a giant leap for me.
Tomorrow On a roll now. After mapping simple shapes in oblongs, triangles and circles, I want to try out the more complex shape of a wing-back chair, coloured futuristic silver, as the backdrop for the text of a poem called “Tomorrow”.
Projection mapping is, I think, something that has endless possibilities for poetry. Walking round town, looking around my kitchen, I’m seeing a canvas everywhere. The rock in the cathedral, the ammonite in the Herbert, Primark. I have my eye on you. It is very strange.
Links to the Free Open-Source Software