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25/01/2010

E/T/C London Transforms Science Into Art

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The Cambridge 800 Anniversary year was brought to a spectacular close with two major new light works in the UK's historic University town that were dedicated to "Transforming Tomorrow".
Projection Artist Ross Ashton, projected onto 2 sites, Senate House and the adjacent Old School, and the end of Kings College Chapel and the next door Gibbs Building. A combination of PIGI and video projection technologies supplied by E/T/C London were utilised in three separate but related animated shows. These expressed elements of the University's dynamic science and research programmes as art in breath-taking large format scrolling images.
Ashton was asked back to Cambridge to produce the shows following the great success of his work twelve months ago for the opening ceremony. This time, the Cambridge 800 Committee decided to expand the scale and scope of the projections and incorporate the Kings College/Gibbs site in addition to Senate House, creating a specially routed walk-through visual extravaganza, which was enjoyed by up to 20,000 visitors over three evenings.
Ashton commented: "I was extremely privileged to return to Cambridge and work on this finale show, for which my brief was to highlight some of the ongoing ground-breaking ideas, concepts and research being undertaken at Cambridge that will make a huge impact on the future of science, medicine, technology, society and thinking".
The projection content was produced from a combination of University supplied material from numerous academic and scientific sources and that originated by Ashton and his team, which included Paul Chatfield and Richard Porter. They then transformed the images into multi-layered video and PIGI film artwork using PhotoShop, After Effects, OnlyView and other specialist software.
The images gracing the fascia of the residential Gibbs building stretched 70 metres wide, while those on the majestic Kings College Chapel rose to 40 metres high, both surfaces fed by 5 PIGI 6Kw projectors with double rotating scrollers loaded with approximately five metres each of film. These were all positioned 110 metres away in weatherised hides. Three PIGIs produced the Gibbs picture, and two fed the image onto the Chapel.
The two surfaces told different stories and the images were 'organically synched.' Monid programmed the shows so that their movements were harmonious with the accompanying orchestral soundtrack. The large stained glass windows of Kings College Chapel were internally floodlit with tungsten lightsources, bringing a soft, warm glow to the centre of the projections which were masked to fit around it.
The ten minute looped "Blurring the Boundaries" show at Senate House was projected onto the two buildings - that sit at right angles to each other - by four Christie S+20K projectors. These were positioned in custom constructed hides, designed by E/T/C London’s Paul Highfield, sitting directly opposite across a large lawn. The images were soft edged together in the middle. The content explored the interactions between academic disciplines and was intense and concentrated.
The show's artwork predominantly consisted of multiple layered still art images, which were then animated using E/T/C’s versatile OnlyView control platform. The images were stored on four OnlyView servers, one per projector, and programmed by Richard Porter using the system's practical multi-timeline function. The process involved mapping them precisely and in minute detail to fit the intricate architecture of the buildings. Chatfield and Porter also created the bespoke items such as the athletic skeletons. All in all, the event proved a huge success, helping to recognise the science of art and the art of science.
(BMcN/BMcC)
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