Alternative Platforms for Discourse

My original idea in January 2020, was to use Lightform to projection map onto a product or products in a shop window.

My reasoning was simple; shops generally have high footfall, shop windows are also visible for most if not all the day and night; and the novelty of projection was likely to appeal to the client and their customers equally.

Progress

Unfortunately, I was hampered by several unexpected obstacles.

I had ordered the Lightform equipment in October 2019, expecting a six week delivery time. In fact, manufacturing and software problems meant that the first kit devices were not ready to ship until February 2020; and the integrated projectors not until late March.

Once I received the first projector, there was a steep learning curve and the equipment took some time to master.

I had missed the deadline to submit a proposal to Jarrolds Department Store (the company had announced it was seeking to decorate the shop windows to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the firm). Projection mapping would have been ideal for this purpose. I had in mind a display of fabric, furniture and tableware, which changed in style and fashion, according to the year; but alas, it was not to be.

Milly J Shoes

Emily Jupp at Milly J Shoes with some of her fantastic shoes.

After the first batch of equipment arrived, I approached the proprietress of Milly J’s Shoes a boutique fashion business, off Tombland, in Norwich.

The shoes in question are bespoke ladies’ shoes, of colourful and highly decorative styles. I thought that a window display of a pair of plain white shoes with projected colours and materials would be a eye-catching window display.

I visited the shop, introduced myself to the owner and explained that I was an MA student and that I was seeking an opportunity to demonstrate the potential of projection mapping for retailers such as herself. I explained that I had not yet received delivery of the integrated projector, but that this was imminent, and when I was so equipped I should like to return and demonstrate the possibilites to her.

She agreed – and before I could return, the nation went into lockdown and I was stymied.

Learning Outcomes

I had already run a number of successful businesses during my working career; so I am well familiar with the process of planning and creating budgets and schedules for business; and have a good grasp of generic business procedures and regulation.

I was already adept at marketing professional services; but this posed a new challenge, in that I had not interacted with a sucessful creative professional, to provide business to business support.

I took a punt on promoting the concept, before I was ready, because of the MA module timetable and delays caused by production difficulties; in ordinary commercial circumstances, I wouldn’t have approached the shop until I had the demonstration projection ready to go, and backed up with a marketing plan. Nonetheless, it was a useful learning experience to pitch to a creative professional and encouraging to receive and interested response.

At some point, I will return and complete the offer of a demonstration, once I can do so safely.

The Alternative Alternative Platform for Discourse

Necessity, as the proverb goes, is the mother of invention.

I had a lightbulb moment and decided to improvise.

Here is the lightbulb.

The Tate Home Projection Mapped Experience

Covid19 has robbed many of us of the freedom to go outside our homes; but the Tate Home Projection Mapped Experience offers a viable alternative to boredom, angst and sitting looking at the walls, by animating those walls.

First, Construct your Projector

A projector can easily be constructed at home out of the following everyday objects

A shoe box

A lightbulb

A teaspoon

Scissors

Craft knife

Gloves

Goggles

A glass of water

Sticky tape

Black shoe polish

A smartphone (if a smartphone is not available, a torch, small light or even a candle can be used (obviously, with great care).

Instructions

Clear your table. Remove all toast, marmalade and Marmite.

Put on some music. 1990’s BritPop works best, I find.

Coat the inside of shoe box with black shoe polish (if you are a proper artist, you can use black gouache). Set aside to dry.

Put on the gloves and goggles

This level of protection is probably superfluous, but it’s fun to dress up.

Carefully (and I mean carefully) prise off the metal cap from the lightbulb using pliers and the teaspoon. It WILL shatter into a thousand tiny shards, if you are not careful (and even if you are, you may need more than one go).

Once you have taken out the innards, discard those, mindful of the damage we are doing to the planet; and carefully tape the rim of the bulb.

Change the music. Palestrina for this bit, I think.

Now present the bulb to the end of the shoe box. Mark the outline and cut a snug silhouette of the body of the bulb, with the opening uppermost.

Secure the bulb into place with tape, reinforcing it at the top.

Try the lid for fit. If there is a gap, cut a square notch to accommodate the top of the bulb.

Animate the bulb

To animate the bulb, you need to take some boiled, cooled water from the kettle, and slowly fill up the bulb with water. Boiled water is de-animated, so we have to put life back into it, with ritual. I find playing hip hop works for me; so change the music to your preference, and go for it.

The bulb should now be alive and ready to receive light.

Turn on your mobile phone, and select a test video.

Place the phone in the projector box, and move backwards and forwards, until the image projected onto your wall (I did mention the wall, didn’t I?) is sharp and in focus.

(If you haven’t got a smartphone, your problems are probably bigger than I can help you with, just by demonstrating home-made projections; but you can try this with a torch, if you have one; or a candle, if you don’t mind burning the house down. But don’t blame me if you do).

Why don’t I simply watch my TV or laptop?

I think that’s an excellent question. Do you have any others?

The Videos

I have selected three video links which are suitable for this projection method. I hope you enjoy them, as much as I did.

(If you have no access to a phone or the internet, try wiggling your fingers in front of the torchlight beam, to make bunny shadows; or drop tiny droplets of ink of different colours into the water in the bulb, and watch the colours swirl).

Watch this space.

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