Category Archives: Installation

Another Gray Area (1981)

Karel Bata - Another Gray Area 4

My experiments with image presentation led me in 1981 to create Another Grey Area. This used a rig built from Meccano housing a spinning mirror linked to a motor, the whole married to a Sony Portapak video camera mounted on top, looking down. As the mirror rotated the camera’s field-of-view covered 360 degrees. I filmed a dancer in Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s rehearsal space dancing around the rig. The video was then transferred to film (I filmed off a TV!) and this was put in a projector, which replaced the camera on the mirror-rig. This then projected an image of the dancer that moved around the presentation room, creating the illusion of a portal into the original rehearsal room. With the rig in the right place, the corners of the rooms would line up. It was an effective illusion.

As far as I know this was the first Projection Mapping installation in Europe. There had been experiments before in the US by Disney, and (unknown to me then) Michael Naimark used a film camera mounted on a turntable in 1980.

Another Grey Area was shown at several event spaces including Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and the London Film-Makers Co-Op in 1981/2.

The projected material (which moved around the room) may be viewed here:
Vimeo link

For 30 years the rig sat in a cupboard under my gas meter(!) until I attended a talk by artist Alex May on the history of Projection Mapping and realised that I had unwittingly been one of the pioneers. Whoah!

Below is the rig as it came out of storage. The motor is detached because it got used for something else since. The mirror broke long ago, but its rectangular frame was still there. In the pictures below it has been replaced with a circular one.

 Initial view
  Click any image to enlarge

 Karel Bata - Another Gray Area: Schematic
Karel Bata - Another Gray Area - Wide
Karel Bata - Another Gray Area: Schematic
Karel Bata - Another Gray Area - Wide
Karel Bata - Another Gray Area: Schematic
Sony AV3400 reel-to-reel Black & White 405 lines Portapak hired from
Fantasy Factory.