This year’s DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, NY, featured an amazing media installation; Immersive Surfaces leveraged the Manhattan Bridge’s enormous anchorage structure as the canvas for an incredible projection show created by a team of artists.
Immersive projection specialists from SenovvA worked directly with a team of 15 artists who created the content that was projected on the bridge.
This was SenovvA’s second year teaming up with the festival, and this year’s install was much larger in scale than anything the festival has attempted in the past. Festival curators came up with the concept of using the anchorage as a projection surface. Hippotizer projectors were used to bring the project to life, and the SenovvA team digitally mapped not only the vertical exterior of the anchorage structure, but also the horizontal archway surface of the tunnel beneath it.
The technology maps every detail of the surface to be projected on, then makes the appropriate modifications to the projected media to result in a seamless presentation—essentially making the textured surface “flat.”
“Projection mapping has been huge in Europe for five or six years, and to do it on an iconic part of New York like the Manhattan Bridge was incredible,” says SenovvA producer Tristan Valencia. “A lot of what went on in this project was using surfaces as areas for art. Repurposing and transforming these surfaces was the goal,” he says.
SenovvA team members worked with artists and curators to make sure the digital media they were creating would be viable for projection on the bridge. The project was unique in that not only the exterior surface of the bridge anchorage was used as a projection canvas—the tunnel underneath the bridge was also mapped and projected on, creating a seamless, multi-dimensional presentation.
“The tunnel was one of the more impactful spaces to watch the piece from,” Valencia says.
Planning and executing the install was a six-month-long process. The SennovA team went through its usual production flow of drawings and lens calculations ahead of time, so when the team was on site they were well prepared. The projected digital content was also prepared and tested ahead of time to avoid last-minute adjustments at the event.
But the SenovvA team did not want to interfere with the creative process of the 15 artists as they creating the media content for the display.
“We acted as an art supply store and provided them with the tools, brushes, cameras that they needed to do this right. We didn’t want the technology to drive the creative process, we wanted the technology to compliment that. The traditional art world doesn’t usually get access to the types of cool tools that we get to work with on a regular basis. And unfortunately our world doesn’t always get to benefit from that artistic approach; for better or for worse much of the content is driven by branding or messages,” Valencia says.