In Venice with ArtAV for the Biennale

It started for me on the 21st of April when I was down at the ArtAV headquarters preparing for the Irish entry to the Venice architecture Biennale. The entry was buy Niall McLaughlin Architects and was called Losing Myself which reflects on architectural spaces, Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. 001

The physical part of the installation consists of 16 projectors on quad-pods (like tripods but with 4 legs) Projecting down on the floor. Each of the individual projected images overlap by 2 pixels to create one whole image. I was responsible for the watch out layback and programming, before i arrived Steve Lez & Simon had been rigging the cabling for the speakers and projectors which drops straight down from the roof and into the projectors.

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We spent a couple of days in a warehouse with the architects going through ideas and working out some of the technical aspects ready for the install in Venice. About 3 weeks later I was the first in Venice and met Dario, out Italian fixer for the job. We loaded the Kit from the docks onto a boat and then traveled with it on a boat to the Arsenale Biennale venue.

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A few hours later Steve and Lez arrived as they were flying from somewhere  else, we unpacked and checked the kit to make sure it had all arrived in once peice. The following day we had a relatively early start and got to work marking out the precise grid onto which we were to position the “quad pods”.

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It was quite tricky marking out the grid as we had to take into consideration the angle of the beams in the roof where we were hanging cables and cable tray off. Coupled with a 200 year old non straight rood we had to avoid an pillar which was in the middle of the floor and had to weave between one of the quad-pods. It took a good few hours to get the floor grid placement correct but was important that we spent the time doing that.

005I think this may have been the end of day three after a few long days of marking out, getting projectors into position and cables in the air. There was a local chap who was blacking out the windows in our space and make a lively set of raps for the doorway, we had quite a grand entrance!
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The content didn’t arrive till quite late and came as a huge image sequence which I used ffmpeg on the watch out servers to encode to video. It was really pleasing to be encoding one single image sequence into 4 quadrants of video all parallel and could watch it live projected on the floor as each frame was encoded. The video was rendered out into 4 separate quadrants to enable smooth playback from Watchout as it struggled with a single 4k video.

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Prior to coming out to venice i spent some time putting some of my own content together just to see what it would look like on such an unusual canvas. Above is just a simple pixel pattern using each projector as simple light source and making a cheesy disco floor. As well as the cheesy stuff I also modelled in 3d the actual quad-pods. I done a few directional light passes around the virtual model and baked the shadows onto the texture. This meant I could create “false shadows” of the legs. Below is an example of this with a fake light source emanating from the pillar casting a shadow on the floor, Im really interested in this effect of tricking the brain with light.

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We managed to make good progress getting things ready in time so after the working day had finished I spent some time doing more quite simple animations that when viewed in this context were really pleasing to the eye.  Below is concentric circles emanating from the legs.009

And below a close up of a single set of concentric circles covering the whole canvas which I particularly like.

010The brass legs take bright colours really well with the bounced reflection of the floor image.011Strokes and triangles, when i was doing this loads of people took videos of it, it starts with simple lines coming from the edges and bouncing off each quad-pod leg creating a geometric spirograph effect. I’ll try and find a copy of some footage from someone and upload it to my Vimeo account, i keep meaning to make more of an effort to document stuff then kick myself when I don’t take enough pictures or footage.
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I set up a limited company in April SEVENTHREE Productions and the cosplay logo has evolved into this (below) after a few iterations. Im still in the process of building a company website i like. The current one is being rebuilt and i still need to get my head around the sort of complex WordPress template.

013After week and a bit in Venice we were done, the client was happy, the biennale people were happy and we were happy. It runs until the 27th November, if your close buy try and go and visit, theres some really cool stuff to see.

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As a temporary departure from places in places, heres Lez’s happy smily face on the way to the airport in a water taxi!

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