Awake: Electric Paint Projection Mapping

”Awake” is an exploration of the future of illustration: new technologies finally allow objects to respond to the environment and to the observer, paintings become alive and viewers are not passive anymore: they need to engage to fully grasp the meaning and soul of the art piece.

This piece, together with Sofia Aronov’s most recent interactive body of work, is the result of the struggle between her love for the world of the tactile and materials, and the overwhelming flatness of technology, which feeds on-screen and virtual content.

As an artist, Sofia tells us that she’s grateful for the new possibilities that tech provides, but she feels a need to redirect its use: not as a tool for escape, but one that helps better experience and appreciates our physical world through our own choices.

”Awake” does this by combining the materiality of paint and the immateriality of light with the power of capacitive sensing: viewers no longer appreciate the painting object via contemplation, they are now able to unfold it through their own physical curiosity.

As a result, the painting evolves and shifts meaning based on the behaviour of the person who interacts with it, revealing different narratives, shaping infinite, magical sceneries and landscapes.

Only a small part of the full painting is visualized on canvas with Electric Paint; semi-abstract shapes provide a glimpse of a submarine landscape, maintaining overall ambiguity. The rest of the painting is only visible by interacting with the canvas: each painted shape acts as a sensor, able to detect human proximity and touch.

Each marine element is connected to an Arduino Uno on the back of the canvas by connecting the paint itself to the board via alligator clips. Arduino gathers proximity data and sends it to a Processing sketch; here each sensor is connected to a specific hand drawn animation, which will be triggered accordingly.

When viewers touch a shape, the paint immediately recognises the interaction and triggers the animations, which are projected on top of the canvas itself to then disappear again. The outcome is a living, shy coral reef whose beauty only flourishes when we engage with it: an ever-changing landscape, always different, reflection of the personality of viewers themselves.

This piece is intended as the first iteration of a series of interactive paintings. Sofia looks forward to exploring different output such as sound and kinetic triggers, on top of further unfolding the relationship between viewer and object, the entity of the painting as a living being and the balance between the human interaction of personal will/ autonomous transformation.

Images & Video: Sofia Aronov

If you want to create your own Projection Mapping project, have a look at the tutorial with the Touch Board or the tutorial with the Pi Cap.

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