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Interactive Projection Mapping with the Touch Board

The interactive projection mapping was created during an art residency, gathering 6 artists from the 3 partner regions of the Weimar Triangle. The goal was to produce a unique video mapping installation on the theme of reconstruction that offered an immersive experience for the audience.

The residency took place in Wallers-Arenberg Creative Mine in the Haut-de-France and was produced by the Lille-based non-profit “Les rencontres audiovisuelles”.

Visual Artist Jules Huvig walks us through the art installation from building it to exhibiting at the video mapping festival

The title of the art installation is taken from a quote by the Latin poet Horace. “Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret”. You can hunt Nature with a fork, yet she will still hurry back. 

The succession of the different scenes in the video tells the common history of the three territories, the heavy transformations of the industrial era, the digital transformation, and the ecological transition. With a game of going back and forth between the natural and the artificial being the main focus of the immersive experience.

The setup is a 3m heigh polygonal tree made of glass fibre and steel which is projection-mapped. Accompanying the piece is a 26cm heigh 3d printed version of the tree, allowing the audience to interact with the media using the device to alter components of the visual display.

The small tree was printed prior to the residency as the artist that made the big tree had the design ready.

The idea was that the interactive connection between the small and the big tree would strengthen the message of the piece. The artists wanted the human to interact with nature (often a fragile object in their hands). 

The team decided to use the Touch Board to make a touch-enabled model of the tree. The team had to decide how many contact surfaces they wanted to have and where they wanted them, to be able to create the animation. In the end, there were 4, one for the trunk, one for the roots and two for the leaves, one left, one right. By creating a touch surface, it made the experience simple and really clear.

The artists then discussed how to utilise the interactive function of the piece, choosing to enable the audience to interact at any time with the linear video content looping in the background through the surface of the small tree.

The contact is made of copper plate that triggers midi messages and acts as a midi controller, triggers real-time effects and plays video clips on separate parts of the big tree. The plates are glued and wired to the brass screws with epoxy glue and conductive paint.

There is a wire for each of the relevant parts of the tree that is colour-coded and connected to a specific input of the Touch Board. Each part triggers specific effects and the video clips are linked to their location on the small and big tree. The whole installation ran on a Macbook Pro with Tajny_project processing patch and Millumin mapping software for accurate 3D video mapping.

To make sure that the wet weather wouldn’t affect the installation and the event, they had to create some metallic contact parts. It was not clear how the weather would affect the technology but in the end, it didn’t at all. Tajny_projekt, the Polish visual artist duo did an awesome job, making the visual effects specific to the different segments of each artist that took part in this residency.

The audience engaged very well with the objects and the interactive surface prompted them to explore and play a lot with the visual display. By making the art an interactive installation, this reinforced the connection between the audience and the audiovisual experience.

Images & Video: Jules Huvig

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