Last November (2014) I completed an installation called Without_Within (Follow link for video) for a solo show up at Andover Newton Theological School of the same name. It consisted a dual-projector interactive projection mapping project filling 8 frosted windows.
Ever since, I'd been toying with the idea of excerpting each of the 8 windows as their own series of projects. I dubbed them W(ith)indows (riffing on the interiority/exteriority themes of the prior project)
This past month I was invited into the 2015 New Art Group Invitational by Paul Pinkman, and I felt this was a perfect opportunity to give it a try. After looking over my past project, I decided to start out with the second window in the series, which I thought had a nice balance to it and would put up little fight as a stand alone bit of code.
Cracking the Code
The hard part was essentially done - all the coding for the imagery and the interactive hot zones was already in place from Without_Within. All I had to do (ha!) was reformulate all the proportions and coordinates, moving the imagery from it's mapped location in the corner of the first projector screen to centered and filling the whole screen.
|My mask for the first four windows. The imagery that filled the top right white square was what I needed to excerpt and give center stage|
|About 1/4 of my grasping at basic algebra, concocting formulas to convert each of the 130+ coordinates to their new location without messing up their proportions.|
Once I got the proportions cooperating, It was time for a site visit to start figuring out what this installation was going to look like when it got off of my computer screen.
Some interesting constraints arose, in that locations for a ceiling mount were limited, and the gallery was a bit particular about what we could/couldn't do to their walls (though not unreasonably so). The rest of the exhibition was, incidentally, mostly traditional work and I felt like mine needed to be in dialogue with that format (which is partially why I chose to try this project out, which I thought might be nice as a sort of picture frame/light box/faux window)
But it became apparent that the piece needed to be roughly 3 ft wide at most, and I had about 6.5 feet of throw distance to work with for my projector mount.
With installation time limited, I wanted to make the project as easily scalable as possible. Just in case physically resizing and keystone correcting the projection wasn't enough, I wanted to be able to digitally resize the imagery without having to rework 130 algebraic equations on the spot.
So back to the sandbox:
With a bit of variable gymnastics and trial and error, I was able to algorithmically link each coordinate to last, so that a change in one number would cascade down change each other number accordingly.
|By inputing the desired pixel height of the project, it would automatically rescale all 130+ other coordinates in proportion|
|centered and masked|
In keeping with the theme of ambiguous interior/exterior relationships from Without_Within, I thought it might be an interesting format to build the "window" to look like a light box, but with the light coming from without rather than within (via projection). So I visited my local art supply store (Home Depot) and picked up some wood and plexiglass.
I also had the presence of mind, having fought with countless pedestals and projector mounts in the past, to finally spring for some right angle clamps and a nail gun. ...I'm not actually sure how I managed to get this far without them, really!
|constructing the front lip of the frame that would hold in the plexi|
|Insert Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt|
|I don't know why, but I've always found joint compound to be the most satisfying part of a woodworking project!|
Flipping the frame face down, I laid down the plexi and masonite and fixed them in place with some handy glazier points I had left over from framing a drawing, and then reinforced the whole shebang with a wooden crossbar pressing it all down flat.
And finally I primed and painted it, and wired the back for hanging!
A side note - I'm always looking for those interesting accidental properties of a project that can turn into further studio experiments - as I tested out my new light box projection screen, I found this nice double image oddity when projecting through the frosted plexi floated a distance above the white surface behind it:
Back at the gallery, it was go time. Time for me to put all this on-the-fly scalability to the test. The first task was to set up the Kinect sensor in the corner of the room where it could view people's interactions, and get all the wiring neatly in place. With that in place, Paul was nice enough to help build a projector mount that would accommodate the odd ceiling.
|suspended by cargo straps from the AC ducts and a makeshift scenery rail, it comfortably holds my projector and Mac Mini, along with al the wiring and some glued wooden shims to get the right downward angle.|
|Kinect hidden in the right corner, Lightbox frame and drawings ready to be hung|
As it turned out, my scalable projection not only worked perfectly, but was entirely unnecessary! I was able to keystone correct the image to fit it to the frame perfectly without ever having to touch the proportions of the imagery itself! Oh well, at least I now have a strategy for the future!
|W(ith)indow 2 in its final form!|
The imagery consists of recursive repetitions (as if in a two way glass "infinity mirror") captured from 3 zones of physical space within the gallery. Conceptually, I was interested in the idea of visually de-centering the recursive images, as if pulling the center of the self outside of the self and giving the viewer a perspective (or multiple perspectives) outside of himself. Then the colors of each viewer can commingle in a relational enactment of digital color theory. The self become located within and without, intermixed with the selves of others. The viewer stands both inside and outside the window, both inside the light box and outside depending on wether the inside is demarcated by the frame or by the source of the light.
I hope you'll be able to come experience it in person at the exhibition!