Genius Loci Weimar: Video Mapping – Immersive & Barrier-free
It can be said that a person lives in an artificial environment. Since some time, the physical environment has been supplemented by the digital environment, if no substitution has taken place. In other words, the virtual world has become a reality. And we are dealing with multilayers and metaphors of this reality. In this regard, the dynamics of contemporary video art forms are of particular attention. We are curious about what the Genius Loci Weimar team thinks about it. It is an exciting and significant festival of videomapping that takes place in Weimar every year. The festival offers many features not only for the audience but it suggests opportunities also for directors and artists.
Video mapping – immersive & barrier-free
Video mapping festivals are becoming increasingly popular. But which characteristics could explain the growing popularity of this comparatively young format?
One factor certainly is the potential of video mapping to give public performances an event character and to make them a collective experience. The format is able to show exciting audiovisual media art and to remain in the viewer’s memory as a holistic experience. Holistic because it allows the audience to immerse themselves in the performance on several sensory levels in its overwhelming and at the same time ephemeral form.
In addition, the format is usually open for viewers in public space and does not necessarily depend on learned cultural practices. It is open to all ages and all milieus and thus represents a (in the cultural sense) barrier-free accessible art form. This characteristic can also contribute to the popularity of the format.
An interactive projection “The Shape of Sound by Jonas Denzel” (Vimeo)
How can a video mapping become a convincing artwork?
As large as the number of mapping festivals, so is their variety in terms of content and technical focus, quality and artistic standards.
In order to create a truly convincing video mapping work, both formal and aesthetic components are crucial. Dramaturgy and composition should be coherent and the artist should be able to interact with his or her audience across the façade. Neither an only technically high-quality video nor randomly selected 3D animations of abstract figures can convince in this context. The narrative concept rather conveys a story: easily comprehensible and entertainingly told.
Video artists as audiovisual multi-talents?
Good video artists can combine several talents and a sensitivity for different elements: The transmission from the screen in the conception stage to the live production on a life-sized building façade is a great challenge. The artist should be able to handle the medium, which has its own specific demands.
A conscious handling of colours and contrasts reduced by the projection as well as unusual visual formats is necessary in order to make the transfer to the façade as a medium of performance successful.
Alternating the façade in the fore- and background, the video work varies between aspects of the structure of the building and elements of the non-façade, all connected by a skilful jump in the cuts. A presentation of the façade through the ornamental display of its architecture can thus alternate with its use as a simple screen in short cuts, so that there are no lengths for the viewer.
The speed of animations as well as the abundance of appropriate details, which can be absorbed by the building, but also be grasped by the spectator, should be carefully coordinated.
A concept can therefore be good, but it must also be legible on the façade.
Genius Loci – Tribute to the spirit of location
At Genius Loci Weimar, a sustainable dramaturgical and narrative concept is characterized by historical awareness, architectural understanding, abstraction and imagination, narrative talent and a straight view on the on-site situation.
The festival, which is already entering its 9th edition, focuses on architecture and the “genius loci”, the particular location with its individual history. An innovative and critical approach to the “genius” in the meaning of the history and architecture of the location, people who acted around there and historical events that have left visible but also invisible traces.
Changing locations – three per year – in the city of Weimar are selected for the competition. They’re discovered, explored, and performed, thus adding a new element to their building history. The audience experiences well-known places from unfamiliar perspectives. As if a further dimension is being opened up, a so far unknown background is created around each of the buildings and they are provided with new possibilities for observation.
Genius Loci Weimar is searching for an expression of individual visual and dramaturgical styles when developing the concept. Diverse genres and novel compositions are welcome in addition to classical video mappings for the five to ten-minute video performance. The spectrum ranges from 3D animations, elements from animated, real and short films and illustrative techniques such as drawing, silhouette cutting, stop-motion etc. It can be played with both the technique and the materials: in addition to the façades in the foreground, it can also be projected onto glass, water, parks and trees.
Multidisciplinary and genre-crossing
During the past eight festival editions, a wide range of artistic styles have already been selected as competition winners to perform in Weimar.
For example, last year’s masterfully implemented seemingly interactive audiovisual performance by Jonas Denzel on the façade of the newly opened Bauhaus Museum in Weimar:
In 2016 Dieselqueen combined a live performance with video projection on water and created with this genre-spanning work a mystical atmosphere in the Weimar Park an der Ilm:
The Tempelherrenhaus was brought to life in the same year by Greatmade with a magnificent hand-drawn artwork using video technology:
Abstract works in a convincing audiovisual composition have also been created, such as the winning work of Weltraumgrafik for the Jakobsplan in 2015: https://vimeo.com/136191052
Again this year, three building façades will be performed in the ninth edition of Genius Loci Weimar. It is still to be decided which stories will be told, which genres will be chosen and which new dimensions will be opened up at the competition buildings Marstall, Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv and Altenburg. The Open Call will run until 14 June 2020.
By Marlene Roth & Hendrik Wendler
Introduction by Aliaksandr Martyniuk