Ever since it first exploded into the consciousness of artists and advertisers in the 1990s, projection mapping has become an independent art form with artists of different styles and the most exciting pieces that have ever been created. At the same time, technology is now accessible to basically anyone, and there are loads of low quality projections without real artistic value, focusing on entertainment as interesting visual attractions.
There are still places around the globe where people have never experienced projection mapping artworks live, so even low quality visual projections will satisfy their appetite for interesting stunts. However, in cities where light art and projection mapping works are regularly shown, only high quality pieces can reach large audiences. The issue with finding videos of projection mapping projects with high artistic value online is the wide range of basic mapping visuals uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo described as projection mapping as well.
The formal definition of projection mapping, or, using the academic term, spatial augmented reality would be “the display of an image on a non-flat or non-white surface.” Projection mapping uses ordinary video projectors, however, instead of projecting on a flat screen, light is mapped onto any surface, turning often irregularly shaped 3D objects into interactive displays for video projection. Whether complex industrial landscapes or small objects, these are in the very core of each project, which means that artists design the artwork for the object, spatially mapping it on the virtual program, and fitting any desired image onto its surface.
Creating simple, cheap, ready-made loops without the true essence of video mapping and artistic value is definitely a trend, and thanks to digital media, these can reach a large audience online, and appear at several shows using the same piece of work for different objects. Video mapping contests offer the opportunity to young talents to showcase their work, however, a high quality piece requires tremendous amount of work to prepare, so it’s rare to see projects with true artistic value.
Fortunately, however, the main trend remains the same: keeping both the quality and the artistic value high, and creating site specific, detailed 3D content combined with cutting edge technology in order to create unique works of art. While more simple and cheap video mapping projects are popping up than ever before, and the number of works with true artistic value is relatively low, this is definitely the path to follow.