What’s a video mapping?
A Video Mapping (or Projection Mapping or Spatial Augmented Reality) is a projection of an animation on a three-dimensional object, trying to fit it so as to achieve an artistic effect and an illusion of depth. Usually the show is accompanied by a stunning soundtrack, surrounding the spectator and increasing the sense of spectacular.
More than just project any image, what is intended is to modify the normal appearance of the object in an attempt to make it come alive. According to these premises, we could include this discipline in the field of augmented reality.
It is clear that the main element that is playing is light (and its absence) and sound, but the most important and distinctive is the intent with which it is made: the deception.
The art of deception
Since immemorial time man has created optical illusions to fool the brain, recreating impossible perspectives and even movement. The artist’s mission has always been to find wich position, orientation and lighting should represent an object and from wich perspective we see it to get validate it as “real”.
Already, the simple fact of represent a tridimensional scene (the real world) on a bidimiensional surface (canvas, paper, wall, etc.), is an illusory artistic expression.
If we review the history of art, there are several terms to define the works that play with perspective and perception. In Spanish, trampantojo; in French, trompe l’oeil; in Italian, quadratura.
We find examples in ancient Greece and Rome, being the Renaissance when it became popular and Baroque, a time of splendor, with its vaulted and infinite ceilings. In the twentieth century, the surrealists and the Op-Art squeezed all the possibilities with new themes and techniques. All these artists have gotten that through a flat surface we could perceive a deep space, incoming and outgoing volumes or just an everyday object that seems we can touch.
We also find architectural examples throughout history as the Potemkin stairs, the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza or the Parthenon, where retouching the scales and direction of the objects it manages to create a feeling of greater amplitude or to correct distortions created by the eye.
Resources & tricks to create illusion of depth
Then we’ll gather various resources used in the history of painting to generate a sense of volume and space.
- Higher ceilings or opened to the sky.
Vaults, painted ceilings and small windows in Alberti’s perspective with vanishing point in the center, creating nonexistent upper spaces.
- Doors and windows with view to a new space.
Openings to adjacent spaces or holes, usually with frames.
- Details with no relationship with the subject to place the object in a real environment.
Flies, papers, hooks and other items out of place but that reaffirm the realism of the image.
- Objects that put us in a specific space.
Objects that stands between us and the scene, making us voyuers many times and reaffirming perspective.
- Objects out of the picture plane or frame that contains them.
Excellent sense of three-dimensionality when the perspective and shadows indicate that something is sticking out of the picture or frame.
- Canvas simulating an object.
Sublime deceptions playing with light and shadow and simulating materials to make believe that the picture is any other object..
But, we would not talk about the history of mapping? What about the pixels, projectors, videos and software?
If we remove that technology layer, all this show is nothing but a big update of the concept of trompe l’oeil. A deception to generate a sensation.
I think we can learn a lot from classical painting, already concerned to solve many technical problems getting images brimful of life.
My intention linking these two concepts is that we stand all to reflect and evaluate (for better or worse) over videomappings for its artistic component and intention rather than its technical side.
If you have you been wanting to really know the history of videomapping, I leave a link where you will find who did and who did it before then.