Sydney Opera House Projection: URBANSCREEN

Curator: Cavan Huang
date: November 13, 2012
Categories: Entertainment Design, Environmental Design, Experience Design, Motion Graphics
Tags: 3D animation, architectural projection, environmental lighting, projection
Vivid Sydney 2012, “Lighting the Sails,” Sydney Opera House projection video

Thirty years ago, Blade Runner gave us a futuristic vision in which giant video ads proliferate the skyline. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of using building surfaces as digital canvases. In the last few years, the German design collective URBANSCREEN has been developing poetic counterpoints to the loud, animated billboards one finds in Times Square and Shibuya Crossing. Using custom-crafted, large-scale, site-specific animations, they elevate architectural projection to an art form.

This summer they produced “Lighting the Sails,” a massive projection on the roof of the Sydney Opera House for Vivid Sydney 2012. And the imagery is unbelievable. In one moment, a dancer spins across the roof; the tiles appear to ripple with her movements. In another instance, the entire roof ripples like the sails on a boat. I love how these projections don’t proselytize gaudy messages or force you think too much. They simply invite viewers to celebrate the architecture. These masterful projections show how even an inanimate building can adopt humanistic qualities.

Unveiling the structure beneath the sails

Dancer rippling on the roof of the opera house

Abstract shapes and forms

Hand beneath the sails

Sails collapsing

Sails collapsing

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