Back to the Future: A Decade of Innovation

For our tenth birthday we took things back to basics in order to explore how far we’ve come, creating a series of extraordinary optical illusions through the medium of craft – and all in a tight, ten-hour window.

Ten years. One decade. One tenth of a century of digital exploration. It’s a big birthday for Projection Artworks, and we thought what better time to create a digital mapping show to celebrate? But instead of relying solely on all the cutting-edge motion graphics and 3D animation technology that the last decade has brought us, we decided to journey back to where our industry began – exploring craft as a means of expression, reverting to the medium of slide-based projection and rediscovering traditional manufacturing techniques.

We gave ourselves just ten days to concept and ten hours to create what would be this celebratory anniversary stunt at the Honourable Artillery Company in Moorgate, centrepiece for the NABS’ (National Advertising Benevolent Society) Stranger than Summer fund-raising ball. Calling on creators and craftsmen of all disciplines, our aim was to use the beauty and simplicity of their art to capture the magic and complexity of ours, drawing on origami, textiles, embroidery, model making, screen printing, illustration and simple stop-frame animation to showcase the dexterity, versatility and possibility of what we do.

We tried to use all the same principles that we’d use in a normal project, (–extrusion, occlusion, contrast, shadows etc.), but used the physical rather than digital as our starting point. The result was a revolutionary show that revisited the past in order to embrace the future, going beyond the realm of groundbreaking motion graphics to express our art in a compellingly different way. And what about the future? What’s in store for the next ten years? If we’re making the same kind of technological leaps as we have in the last, our industry will have changed beyond recognition. When we first started projecting we were using slides and mammoth-sized servers, on the cusp of a high-powered digital revolution which we went on to be pioneers of, with our first shock-factor digital mapping show on Waterloo Station, our first commercial gig on the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol for Sky News’ government leadership debate, and, just weeks later, our projection of real-time election results on Battersea Power Station.

Indoor, outdoor, 3D, 4D, immersive, experiential: by continually enriching our art, we’ve stayed at the very forefront of what’s been an extraordinary age for digital technology, getting noticed with our media-frenzied red carpet show in Tokyo for Disney’s Tron; our first foray into interactivity and gesture-based real-time mapping for Peugeot in Rio de Janeiro (which generated five million clicks online); and other online-sensation shows such as Carlsberg on the White Cliffs of Dover, Sensodyne on the Science Museum and Virgin Money on Senate House.
And now we’re diversifying further, creating not just mapping shows but all manner of applications, immersive rooms and long-term installations, while exploring new frontiers for mapping in retail with our custom design and industry launch of DisplayMapper.

When we set out ten years ago to bring mapping spectaculars to the word, we could never have conceived how the industry would explode: an unstoppable creative force, a global phenomenon, imprinted on popular culture by music artists such as U2, Pink Floyd, Deadmau5 and Amon Tobin. But if the industry does continue to grow, diversify and transform itself at such a rate, one thing is for sure: as far as innovation is concerned, Projection Artworks will be driving it.
Posted by James Murray on 16.06.2015
We're pioneering specialists in light + pixel technology. We turn any surface or environment into amazing content using projection-mapping, OLED/LED or lighting design. We create brand impact, powerful storytelling and technical innovation.
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