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After dark : architecture and the art of projection in 'outer space'

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Brown, JM 2017 , 'After dark : architecture and the art of projection in 'outer space'', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This practice-led inquiry investigates concepts and practices of projection-mapping light images onto architectural façades after dark with a view to discovering specific ways in which this form of public art impacts on, extends or transforms, experience of place. Spectacular new configurations of the medium have emerged in the 21st century, driven by global economic forces and advances in increasingly powerful digital technologies. In many parts of Australia, large-scale projections on façades of iconic buildings have become virtually de rigueur in significant cultural celebrations and arts festivals. They have, in particular, become the prime focus for a new wave of urban festivals such as Sydney’s Vivid, Melbourne’s White Night, and Enlighten Canberra. Underpinning this emerging cultural scene are complex negotiations between the arts and corporate sponsors, competing agendas for public space, government and commercial interests in ‘urban branding’ for tourism, and corporate marketing. Internationally, this is a new field of creative practice yet to be subjected to research and critical discourse. This study focuses on the Australian context of emerging projection practices.
The term 'lumentecture' serves as a succinct referent to the phenomenon since it draws into equal partnership the ephemeral qualities of image projection and the enduring materiality of a host surface. I introduce lumentecture as a contemporary arts practice with a hybrid cross-disciplinary heritage that encompasses proto- and pre-cinema, experimental arts movements, expanded cinema, and architecture as media façade.
My inquiry follows three inter-related trajectories to probe lumentecture’s significance in 21st century Australian arts and culture contexts. Development of my own practice is grounded in site research and direct responses to place at a particular rural location in northern Tasmania, as well as informed by field studies and online research into lumentecture installations around the country. In tandem with practice, inter-disciplinary reading in contemporary arts, cinema, new media, architecture, history and spatial studies has led to formulation of a set of key elements for reflecting on lumentecture’s distinctive vectors as contemporary spectacle: cartography, milieu, temporality, topology, surface and chorography. This conceptual framework forms a scaffold for discussion of exemplars from field studies and my own practice through the main body of the exegesis.
The outcome of the inquiry is a lumentecture installation on farm buildings at a remote rural site, an ‘outer space’ for working with and against elements of projected spectacle in counterpoint with lumentecture’s prevailing urban-centred spectacular excesses. My larger aim is to contribute some useful coordinates to ongoing conversations between creative practitioners, audiences and critics interested in this fast-changing, intriguing and contentious field of creative expression.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Brown, JM
Keywords: architecture, projection, light art, lumentecture, video mapping, creative cities, urban illuminations
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Copyright 2017 the author

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