The Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw, Poland, may be housed in a structure that’s almost a century old, but it looks like it’s from the year 2100. That is in large part due to the efforts of AntiVJ, a collective of European media artists who have livened up the museum’s home with a permanent digital projection installation, called “O (Omicron)” that turns the structure’s giant concrete dome into a animated epic worthy of Tron.
The Museum of Architecture is located in Hala Stulecia or Centennial Hall. The building was designed by architect Max Berg in 1913 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig, in which Napoleon was defeated by the Prussian, Austrian, and Swedish armies. The hall was renovated in 1997, named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2006, and currently serves as an arena for sports and events. When it was constructed, the Centennial Hall was the largest building ever made of reinforced concrete, and sported the largest dome since Rome’s Pantheon — all of 213 feet in diameter.
AntiVJ’s project turns the dome into something like the Death Star. The circular structure becomes the canvas for an array of light projections that highlight its structural beams and central oculus (the moments when the middle glows red are particularly intense). The piece certainly enlivens what might otherwise be a stiff, formal building, but it also transforms the hall into a frenetic, dynamic sculpture, kind of like a robot glitching out. Check out the full video of “O (Omicron)” below.
“Projection mapping” is a popular new media technique in which an object or space’s surface is scanned and mapped by computer. Projectors are then used to project moving images directly onto the exact contours of the target, creating a seamless animation. See it in action in artist Kyle McDonald’s work here.
AntiVJ artists Romain Tardy and Thomas Vaquié write that they were interested in “trying to create a vision of a future with no precise time reference… A timeless future.” The pure white light of “O (Omicron)” certainly lacks specific reference points, and points toward a kind of ideal utopian vision of the future of architecture as a living, breathing medium. But it’s also apparent that the style of densely animated, precisely projection-mapped geometric animations is quickly becoming a cliché. What should set AntiVJ’s work apart is its sensitivity to its architectural context and its engagement with the history of the building as well as contemporary aesthetics. [AntiVJ]