Imagine you are driving (top down, of course) along a pristine coastline.
The wind in your hair, the world at your feet. The sun is setting, the ocean is that perfect blue. The salty air is filling your lungs up with freshness.
You smile coz life is perfect and as you muse out into the water, you see this:
Didn’t your life just get so much better?
Enter: Secret mapping experiment.
Who are they? We don’t know.
What do they do? Some mad cool shit.
How do we get to know them? Well, we tried our best.
So, who exactly are you?
We are artists with alpha channels who try to find the edges.
Yeah? That’s cool.
And, what do you do?
We do projection mapping on buildings, gigantic masterpieces and machines which are now out of use. The concept is to do projection mapping on as many abandoned and closed-down sites as possible, around the globe. This way we would like to rethink the spaces’ (hi)story and architectural details.
We try to redefine and present these buildings and objects (which had an important role and function in the past) with the utilization of the technology of animation and video mapping, shaking and dressing them up.
This way we give the buildings a ’new life’; we can look back into the past and the ghosts can repopulate the spaces that used to be full of life.
IMPORTANT: the exact locations are being kept a secret, so they can remain for the after-ages.
Wow that is some really cool s*@#$*$#@.
And why do you do this?
If you have been working on commercial projects for many years you need to find a platform where you can experiment your ideas.
This is a platform where you can play freely and create your own games with your own rules to find your daily excites.
Ah. Daily excites Don’t we all need them?
Abandoned buildings always enchanted us. Our aim is to redefine places that had an important function in the past and give them a new meaning with an entirely new perspective with our projection mappings.
We started in 2015 in an old power factory in Budapest.
There are a lot of neglected and forgotten unique constructions and natural formations and we gladly wake them up from their secret past for a night.
What sort of preparation goes into this? From identifying the right projection surface to actually making it happen?
Identifying the right projection surface is a very hard decision. It is very important to get correct photos, keeping in mind the camera angle and the eventual projection angle. We use different technologies, but sometimes we have only one photo of the surface. Sometimes, the surface itself changes, and looks very different in a photo than what it is in reality.
Thankfully, there are good methods that you can use to make 3D plans from photos.
Once this is done, we work at sizes, distances, figuring out the correct projector and lens.
Wow. All of this is pretty complex considering you project on massive ice bergs & mountain faces.
Yes. The maximum distance we have had to work with is 300 meters from the surface. That is really far out and so tough to map everything to the right position.
We have got different kind of projectors. Every surface needs a different technology. You can definitely feel the difference between DLP – LCD or Lazer systems when you are in the darkness.
We set our projector up in the back of a Pick-up, the top of a wind turbine or on a special trailer that we’ve built for it.
And we solve electricity problems by using sunlight, uranium or even a hamster wheel.
Ah of course. The trusted hamster wheel. Never lets you down.
And so, how long does it take for you to put together an experiment?
Sometimes a couple of weeks, sometimes only a few days. But there is one project that we haven’t been able to finish for two years. We also make interactive stuff what is created on the spot, on the actual day.
Tell us about all the different software you work with. Does good ol’ Resolume feature in your secrets?
We use so many different kinds of software - there is no one and only.
Here is one of our usual dialogues:
“F***! it’s almost midnight and we haven’t started yet!”
“Switch the damn projector on and map this shit on it. You can do this!”
“No problem. 5 minutes.”
“Don’t forget the MASKS!”
Haha. Just great! Good to know
Tell us about some of the challenges you face doing this. I’m sure there are many.
Wow. That is a good question- because every project is a challenge.
We need to do the projection during the night, in the dark, and solve immediately some unexpected issues. A lot of times, we haven’t got permission. So, what we are doing is highly risky.
There is a project. We have already tried twice. We travelled 2000 km with all the equipment. It is our dream spot. The top of a mountain, which seems to be always cloudy or rainy. It doesn’t matter, if it’s summer or winter. The mountain just doesn’t let us to do the projection. But we will go back every year and try to realize our dream. We never give up!
That is really inspiring. Before you go back into hiding, anything to keep our eyes peeled for?
We want step into the sky and come down. Finish the top of the mountain. But, there are thousands of venues what needs secret mapping all around the world.
If you know some of them, please send us your suggestion firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aaaaand, let the inbox spamming begin!
Thank you for talking to us Secret Mapping Experiment. Boy, are we on the look-out for you.
Check out more of their amazing work here.
Interview Credits: Daniel Besnyo, Founder- Secret Mapping Experiment