Carriageworks and Panasonic Display Projection Mapping at Sydney Festival

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The Carriageworks Summer 2020 Visual Arts Program, part of the Sydney Festival, is now underway until 1 March 2020, and includes VIDEO WORKS, a composite of three video installations made by Daniel Boyd from 2012 to 2018. The projections map the artist’s visualisation of the cosmos as moving compositions and prismatic colour, onto the walls of the gallery space at Carriageworks arts precinct.      

Displayed with music from DJs Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomson, the works – titled ‘A Darker Shade of Dark #1-4’ (2012), ‘History is Made at Night’ (2013) and ‘Yamani’ (2018) – commence simultaneously and continue to loop in a continuously changing sequence of images and sound.

Projecting a Story

Todd Hawken, Production Manager, Carriageworks said, “The three video artworks and two compositions create one continuous experience, and represent the largest-scale presentation of the artist’s work to date. We’re very pleased with the final presentation and the way viewers are enjoying and responding to the artwork.”

Daniel Boyd is an indigenous Australian artist recognised for his depiction of colonial and postcolonial Australian and European history, especially the relationship between aboriginal people and the British Empire. He wants to use his work to focus on what has been lost to history, encourage native Australians to look at history from their own perspective and challenge the subjective history that has been created. He trained originally as a painter and over the last ten years or so has also been creating video installations like the one at Carriageworks.

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Panasonic Australia is a Presenting Partner for VIDEO WORKS and supplied laser projectors to the gallery for the exhibition. Carriageworks’ Head Curator Beatrice Grafton said, "Daniel Boyd created VIDEO WORKS as an immersive journey through time and space, and so the quality of the projection is a key part of achieving the artist's intention, as well as building up the visitor experience in the gallery."

The Gallery Environment

Ahead of the launch, Carriageworks installed the Panasonic laser projector system to support its Summer program, selecting nine 7.000 and 10,000 lumen Panasonic RZ Series laser projectors and specialised zoom lenses.

For Carriageworks, the key elements for gallery projection systems are accurate colour, compact size, minimal noise, installation flexibility and low maintenance. As well as displaying the projects to their best advantage, the equipment needed to run invisibly in the background. The exhibition space has a low ceiling and obstructions like large air conditioning ducts, while the cabling needed to be hidden and the projectors had to be precisely placed to avoid casting shadows on the projection surfaces.

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Laser projectors like the RZ Series are small and have a low-noise fanless design, making them versatile. Because laser systems don’t rely on lamps, they generally don’t need maintaining through the length of an exhibition.

Todd said, “Our main interest was good colour fidelity and consistency to present the artworks at their best and to tie the installation together. That was what was attractive to me about the RZ Series. I first saw them used at a performance of ‘Invisible Cities’ at the Manchester International Festival where around 25 or 30 of them were set up in a large warehouse space. They can also be hung at any angle, which works well for projection mapping.

“Compact size is important because larger projectors can be visually distracting for artwork and, for this installation, the audio element is critical. These projectors are very quiet, an advantage in our gallery where the concrete walls are likely to bounce sound around.”

The exhibitions are open eight hours every day over two to three months. Maintenance can be disruptive and affect the visitor experience. When a conventional projector lamp fails, for example, shutting down the projector and replacing the lamp may mean the finely calibrated software mapping has to be re-aligned, which takes time and resources. “With these laser projectors, I’m anticipating no adjustment will be needed at all,” Todd said.


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Carriageworks has now purchased a total of 10 laser projectors to use in future projects, allowing the curators greater scope to plan for more ambitious projects. They will be able to meet higher standards and reduce dependence on hiring equipment or borrowing from other galleries.

The two higher-spec 10,000-lumen projectors, for example, were chosen for their ability to maintain brightness and deliver more impact to works or events held in exhibition areas with a lot of ambient light.

It’s also expected that the new kit will be in high demand as a strong trend for projections now exists across visual arts, live performance and events. Carriageworks estimates that more than half of all projects it presents have a projection element – from theatre to masterclasses and night markets.