Visitors arriving after nightfall didn’t even have to enter to recognise that audio-visual boundaries were being stretched. The entire side of a generic warehouse by day was transformed into a crazed Jekyll and Hyde laboratory where meat cubes were fed to giant disembodied tongues and technicians fought titanic eyeballs.
This was ‘VJing’ – the art of projection mapping which the Philapdelphia based design collective Klip had pioneered from the underground light shows of the 90s rave scene. With an unfolding narrative loop of a few minutes, the contours of the building were perfectly re-rendered in pixels by the eerie reimagining ‘What’s He Building in There?’
Inside, the answer to that question was equally exciting. There were installations that had a foot more in the art than film world, like Anti VJ’s ‘Eyjafjallajökull’ – a 3D, digital vista of the Icelandic volcano of the same name that fumed and exploded with startling force in 2010.
Around the corner Mexican artist Rafael Lorenzo-Hemmer swathed the building’s central lounge in an interactive installation of panels that pulsed with the fingerprints and heart-rates of visitors using a custom-made sensor.
Four different protagonists’ stories interweave and separate on different walls of the auditorium
“The show’s about immersive environments,” said curator Shari Frilot. “A number of them are meant to overwhelm the body and disorient you in time and space so you’re forced to construct the road back to a bodily orientation.”
More filmic offerings continued this discombobulation. Lynette Wallman’s ‘Coral: Reimagining Venus’ was a fulldome film about life on the reef – a stunning jamboree of phosphorescent marine life that viewers watched above them as they lay on bin bags, as if on the sea floor.
More strange still was Meredith Danluck’s four-channel film North of South, West of East that had an audience watching four different protagonists’ stories interweave and separate on different walls of the auditorium in a single coherent narrative.
Totally outside of the mainstream and the urge to mediate with the market, the future of New Frontier’s exhibits lies in galleries and museums rather than cinema or television but the questions they pose as to how creatives can push the forms and new media they have at their fingertips are universal.
Get a hit of the future in the documentary feature I made there for Fourth & Main.