Definition Live 02 - Web


Physical spaces go interactive

Immersive experiences present a new way to engage

WORDS. Adrian Pennington

C reative use of light, images puppetry to phantasmagoria shows with magic lanterns. During the technological revolution of the 19th century, projection was introduced to the wider public in movie screenings. With the arrival of television, then the home cinema, audience expectations grew and the entertainment industry moved inexorably towards more immersive experiences. The Walt Disney Company was a pioneer in the use of projectors to bring stories to life in a unique and immersive way. In the sixties, images of human and canvas can be found in the earliest examples of storytelling entertainment, from shadow faces were projected onto animatronics in Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride to make the lifeless busts look animated. Since, projection mapping has found its way into applications spanning advertising, concerts, immersive museum exhibitions, theatre staging, gaming, trade shows, decorations – any environment where you want to engage and compel large crowds, even from a distance. As technology and projectors became more powerful, so has the ambition of designers. With audiences craving the social element of a shared experience, projection mapping is moving to its next evolution – which involves the audience themselves shaping the event. Sensors, IR scanning and gesture recognition, among other tools, are being integrated to create multisensory environments influenced by guest interaction. Installation artists have historically created immersive and multisensory experiences, pulling viewers into their alternate realities. Now they have a slate of new technologies at their disposal to heighten these experiences, blurring the lines between physical and digital realms. Haptics (scent and touch), augmented reality viewed via mobile screens and immersive audio are other key elements to transforming the physical. Indeed, spatial soundscapes for some cutting- edge experiences are just as psychedelic as the artwork.

According to the latest Tech Trends Report from the Future Today Institute, although traditionally not thought of as a technology, physical spaces are becoming more hybrid, giving artists free rein on the built environment and resulting in adaptable experiences for viewers. For instance, Disney recently partnered with Lighthouse Immersive to launch a live experience that celebrates several iconic animated franchises. Lasting 60 to 90 minutes, the exhibit allows guests to interact with displays and get immersed in projections and screens that depict how an animated film is created. Architect Chafik Gasmi told the FTI report that, when physical spaces become dynamic or hybrid, then shops, restaurants, museums, theatres and hotels must no longer be separate entities; they can become fully integrated experiences. Interactive spaces will no longer be inert, but must change with frequency to keep people engaged. As the physical spaces we occupy become more adaptive, they will usher in new forms of entertainment and ways for it to be consumed. Zoos, aquariums and museums must evolve in order to hold the attention of visitors who expect interactivity. Augmented reality lets visitors become part of the show, making educational components more entertaining – and therefore more absorbing. Competition will be fierce, though. What kid wouldn’t want to see 35ft holographic dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum?

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT Advancements in projection and audio technology are unlocking new ways to create installations

05. APRIL 2023

Powered by