Platform 1

 

Platform 1

Platform 1, Hackney 2017

An installation of projected stereoscopic ‘living statues’.

At the core of Platform 1 is a series of Stereo 3D ‘living statues’ of rail passengers captured with a high-speed camera and frozen mid-gesture as we move past them.
This is then processed later to create a Stereo 3D image. It is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, that runs for 8 hours. More information – here

Platform 1 is an istallation that evolves with the physical particularities of the venue it is in. The piece uses a large Stereo 3D screen made from non-standard projection material (such as a builder’s sheet!) giving a sense of the piece organically sited in its setting. It is presented using an innovative system using two 4k projectors that give an unusually bright 3D image.

Platform 1 is suited to a large space, but is very adaptable, and can be presented more simply, or in a smaller space, using a conventional 3D TV screen.

Platform 1 was first presented at EXP Hackney, London, November 2017.
It was shown again during Art in Flux at Ugly Duck Studios, June 2018.

The Tree That Blinked

The Tree Face WP 720
 Click any image to enlarge

The Tree That Blinked is a projection-mapped self-portrait toying with notions of identity, representation, and transformation.

The work moves and shifts as the leaves of the tree move with the wind. The expression thus seems to change, and the face appears to undergo changes of age.

The illusion can be compelling. Some folks think the leaves have been individually painted. Others that the tree must have been trimmed to the shape of my head!

Trying to give the work any specific ‘meaning’ is elusive, perhaps even pointless, as viewers bring their own strong personal interpretations. Generally they reference ideas of layered consciousness, and childhood stories of journeys into the forest. Some see it as actively benign, and The Wizard of Oz is frequently mentioned. Somewhere between these interpretations lies some kind of meaning…

It was first shown at Jonathan Ross’s Gallery 286 as part of an exhibition of self-portraits (he does have the perfect garden) and received an enthusiastic reception captured here by videographer Viral Mistry:

The Tree That Blinked on Vimeo

Click to play video: The Tree That Blinked

The Tree That Blinked 615

With Jonathan Ross at Gallery 286
Jonathan Ross, Gallery 286

The Tree That Blinked was staged as part of the Canary Wharf’s 2014
Winter Lights spectacular, outside One Canada Square.
TTTB CW web still 2
 Karel Bata

It was a major part of Singapore Night Festival
TTTB Lyra Singapore Night Festival
There is a blog about the Singapore installation here –
The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival (WordPress)

And here it is at Light.Move.Fest in Łódź, PolandLodz Peggy Camera Comp copy
Blog – The Tree That Blinked in Łódź

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Note to arts curators:
The installation needs a suitably shaped tree, along with very low ambient light – ideally total darkness, where it is amazing (really!).
The projector needs to be just above head height, and as close to the eye-line of the visitors as possible. As you move away the effect breaks up, but this works in its favor when as you approach the tree there comes a point where visitors suddenly ‘see’ a face! The video shows that.
This installation only works after sunset, and many trees lose their foliage each year. In the UK this limits usage to autumn, though it will work well on a suitably-shaped Christmas tree.
At Gallery 286 we used my own 4K lumens projector. At Canary Wharf 6K. At Singapore 18k. And in Łódź 21k. The level of ambient light is the biggest factor determining the power required.
Once installed this can be left running. Power can be switched off to the whole set-up during the day, and my custom media player will boot from cold when powered-up. Someone just has to switch it on and off.

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Seen and Not Seen

Seen and Not Seen

Seen and Not Seen was a projection mapping installation created at Studio 308, Greenwich in September 2013.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 05.56.09
Click any image to enlarge.

Here is a 3 minute video record: https://vimeo.com/81094390

During the event visitors were led into the studio in total darkness guided by LEDs to stand in front of a ‘welcome’ sign. The show then consisted of projections on to a screen and on to masks suspended by fishing-line which gave the illusion of faces floating in space.

I’ve always had a deep affection for the Talking Heads song. It may be about someone who seems a bit unhinged, but the themes are pretty deep. On the surface it’s about appearances – about how we superficially look. But underneath lie our anxieties about how we present ourselves to others, and are perceived by them.

The challenge with creating a video of a performance staged in darkness is that you’re forced to show the smoke and mirrors. During the performance the audience stands in the dark and you hide as much as possible from them. The video has to do the opposite. If you were to just record what the audience saw it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to the viewer. Without some context it would appear to be just faces appearing and disappearing against a black background: the viewer, unlike the audience, is not there to experience the magic of it happening around them.

This is common with other videos documenting Projection Mapping installations. They will show the site – perhaps a building – during the day, and then show the performance at night. Without this there is nothing by which to judge scale and tell what’s going on – the show would lack impact. In short, you have to show how it’s done, and do so at the outset.

This project took a lot of work, but I’d love to do it again, and I have several ideas for other subjects and approaches.

Seen and Not SeenScreen shot 2013-12-30 at 15.52.50Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 05.52.45
Seen and Not Seen
– Click any image to enlarge.

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Out Of Darkness (Virtual Light 1)

Out Of Darkness 600x317

A Projection Mapping installation staged at the Phoenix gallery in Brighton as part of the Painting With Light event in December 2014.

The piece creates an illusion of a light moving around inside the room and somehow illuminating it. However there is only the one projector, and the effect of this presence / absence is disjointing. Some see it as creepy, some as beautiful, but few are left unimpressed.

Out of darkness flux copy  Click here to play the video: Out of Darkness

note:
The live piece is creamy white and free from any of the flicker or artifacts visible in the video. The music was added for this edit. The piece itself is silent.

This installation has been shown at Painting With Light, London Decompressed (Burning Man), Gallery 286, Art in Flux, EXP Hackney.

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Note to arts curators:
Much of Out Of Darkness can be prepped off-site. But because the specific geometry of any venue it is important here that the final assembly and filming needs to be done on site. Providing that rigging the projector is straightforward, this usually takes half a day.
The venue does not have to be blacked out, but the darker it is the better.
I would welcome the opportunity to create a much larger version of this!

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Another Gray Area (1981)

Karel Bata - Another Gray Area 4

My experiments with image presentation led me to create Another Gray Area in 1981. I’d read Malcom Le Grice’s Abstract Film and thought I’d try something new. I rather liked the idea of projected images moving around to create new spatial illusions.

Another Gray Area used a rig built from Meccano housing a spinning mirror linked to a motor, with the whole lot married to a Sony Portapak video camera mounted on top looking down into the mirror. As the mirror rotated the camera’s field-of-view covered 360 degrees.

I video-recorded a dancer in Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s rehearsal space dancing around the rig. The video was then transferred to Super-8 film (my telecine was filming a TV screen!) and this was put in a projector which replaced the camera on top of the mirror-rig. This then projected an image of the dancer that moved around the presentation room, thus creating the illusion of a portal into the original rehearsal space. It was an effective illusion.

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 record turntable in 1980.

Another Gray Area was shown at several event spaces including Sadler’s Wells Theatre rehearsal rooms (where it had been shot), and the London Film-Makers Co-Op in 1981/2.

The projected material (which moved around the room) can be viewed here:

Vimeo link

I went off to WSCAD to study film, then pursued a film career, and for 30 years the rig sat in a cupboard under my gas meter! One day I attended a talk on the history of Projection Mapping and realised that I had unwittingly been one of the pioneers. Whoah!

Below is the rig. The shaving mirror broke long ago, but its rectangular frame survived. In the pictures it has been replaced with a circular one. Click any image to enlarge.

.How-It-Works
.Schematic 1
.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. It looks like something out of Kubrick’s
2001, but it wasn’t even SD.
But it was the best you could get in 1981. And it weighed a ton!

 

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SX70 Polaroid experiments

In my 20s I devoured the monochrome photography of Walker Evans, Robert Capa, the NFA, etc. I must bought bought the whole PhotoPoche library. I was also a frequent visitor to Soho’s Photographers’ Gallery, and it was there I was blown away by Lucas Samaras’ bold use of colour, and his physical manipulation of Polaroid prints – so radical back then!

I saved up, bought a SX70 Camera, and set about moulding the dye layers as images formed, heating the prints, taking them apart, and even putting them in the microwave. Sparks flew(!) and each image was unique, yet a style clearly emerged that was all my own.

Such a shame the stock was discontinued. Here’s a couple of my prints. Click for a closer look.

 ……Micheal Read-Shaw: distressed polaroid ...Liz Hossack: distressed polaroid

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