Case Study of Projection-Mapping Installation
This project was a class-wide collaborative effort to experiment with projection mapping to create visually interactive posters through the art of creative coding. Projection mapping turns any space into a platform for visual as well as interactive displays. It takes the concept of augmented reality one step further, showing us a combination of the digital and physical realms without the lens of a screen. These projects have high visibility and a great deal of social impact. To get a sense of the highly collaborative nature of creative coding, we worked as a class with support from The Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio (LCDSS) to install a large-scale projection-map display involving experimental typography in or on the Charles Library.
The class took some time to find projection mapping inspiration from existing projects on the internet as well as brainstorming possible ways we could create a final deliverable centering around the loose prompt of “experimental typography.” Taking a look at all of the examples we found we then spent some time establishing the specific goals we as a class wanted to achieve through this project.
There wasn’t a prompt/guideline for us to follow. So, in order to start designing, we needed to brainstorm what we should pick as the context of the project. To do this, we made a Miro board to collect our ideas.
Next, we also thought about what feelings we would want to make our audience experience through our projection project. We also took learning takeaways along with projection items into consideration.
To create the interactive designs for the given prompt, we must initially figure out a theme. After discussing multiple ideas, we decided to have the main theme as Silver Lining, a sign of hope or a positive aspect in an otherwise negative situation. We planned on collecting silver lining stories and creating projected posters based on them. So, Claudia and Camryn created a Silver Lining Box that each of us can anonymously submit our personal silver lining stories. In the end, we collected six stories on hand-written notes from the Silver Lining Box.
The Design Process
With the submissions we retrieved from the Silver Lining Box, we got ready to brainstorm inspirations for our designs. We utilized Miro to collaborate on the design process and document our progression. We wanted the projected designs to have simple color schemes so that they can convey the emotions of the submissions through the primarily typographic design. Specifically, we picked a soft blue color to represent the raw human emotions. We also added a pop of contrast within the color schemes by having an orange color that is not too intense or intimidating. Beside a minimal color choice, we also thought about adding a chrome/metal effect to connect to the theme of Silver Lining. Another option we were considering was including some particles or sparkles as supporting elements for the typographic posters. Most importantly, to fulfill the prompt of our project, we finalized on making the posters interactive by animating the type either through coding in p5.js or working within AfterEffects.
As we continued our design process, we wanted to focus fully on delivering the emotion of the submissions. So, we made the designs even more effortless with zero design elements to concentrate on the type itself. Instead of only projecting the kinetic type on plain white posters, we decided to scan the submissions and print the scans as the posters. By doing that, we could then project the animated type onto the printed posters to give the designs as a whole a genuine and human feel to them.
To further the emotional and human aspect of our installation, the team decided to focus on interaction. Interaction would allow viewers to control the poster projections as a form of communication and connection with the submitted stories that our design team worked to animate, bringing life into the digital aspects of the project.
Our interaction team began tackling the interactive aspect of this project using Arduino. Arduino is a microcontroller built into a single printed circuit board. After testing Arduino’s capabilities and discussing the layout of the posters, we realized that the software would be too difficult to use due to complicated wiring and buggy errors caused by the wiring. The team then shifted their focus from Arduino to an app called midiBox that would be used on an iPad, and a mapping software, MadMapper, that would be used on a laptop to project the images onto the posters. The iPad and laptop would be connected and allow midiBox to control how MadMapper projected images, creating an easy setup for interaction.
The interaction team, after running into multiple bugs and setup issues such as connecting an Apple iPad to the Windows laptop we were using to run MadMapper, they decided on using a compatible MIDI keyboard instead of an iPad that would be placed near the entrance of the exhibition for viewers to easily interact with the poster projections.
Our class took the morning to set up our exhibit by dividing into task groups and working collaboratively to make sure everything was ready for public viewing later in the day. There were plenty of smaller tasks to be done to prepare everything, such as printing, hanging, cutting wire, placement adjustment, lighting, and interaction. Our instructor, Jenny Kowalski, took initiative hanging the posters with help from her students while the Interaction Team worked on the projections of each animation through MadMapper.
Event Promotional Materials
As our exhibition is coming to completion, we discussed the possibilities for expansion and room for improvements. What could we improve if we were given more time or resources? How else could this project go? We concluded that if we decided on the theme sooner and pitched in more solid ideas/concepts at the initial stages, we would be able to construct a more solid base plan to span out the project. We also thought that if we were to create posters together as a class and then focus on the interaction later, the exhibition would be more cohesive. Not only that, once we were able to finish designing the posters sooner, we would have more time to experiment with displaying the posters which could ultimately help setting up the posters happen more conveniently.
Working together as a class made the design process a more special and different experience for us after spending many months of school online due to COVID-19. Instead of communicating with each other via Zoom during class, we were able to be in person for project discussion. Moreover, we got a chance to create a lot of hands-on elements like printing and trimming the posters, making clouds out of cardboard, etc.