Nicola Gastaldi – The Cave

September 12, 2014
by Tim Rabjohns

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    In case you missed this in Creative Review first time round in May, here is another chance to see this mind blowing piece of projection mapping in miniature as it has been picked up by the Cambridge e-luminate festival.

    Italian motion designer/project mapper, Nicola Gastaldi has been working for Smoke & Mirrors for the past few years, and like any good creative mind has been working on his own side projects.  One of these is The Cave – a custom built acrylic reversed truncated pyramid hung from the ceiling of a dark room, approx. 6 sqm minimum. A small projector, usually a 3K, sits about 2 meters away from The Cave and back project the light onto it. The media player is one of the smallest on the market. (see pic)

    the cave shot 02I think it’s amazing and mesmerizing, with a perfect sound track – It would be even better if it was scaled up and made as a walk in installation somewhere….   What is especially nice when watching this video of it, is that he allows plenty of space for very little to happen, which makes the busy periods even more dramatic.  I’d love to see it linked this up to Oculus Rift somehow – my mind is bending just thinking about it…

    For all you London-centrics that think that only the cool stuff happens in the Capital can think again as Cambridge has its very own (and very inclusive) festival of light – where “art meets technology to shed light on low carbon innovation.”  I havn’t been, but it looks well worth checking out… you can see a highlight film from the last festival below.

    As Creative Review ran a very full and comprehensive interview with Gasta (as he is known) I will reproduce an excerpt here and give a link to the full article at the end, which is well worth a read.

    CR: Can you tell me more about the concept behind the installation shown at the CR Annual launch party and its production?
    NG: When it comes to projection mapping, the creative process is strictly connected to tangible limits, like the space and the ambient light of the ‘stage’. First of all, the room must be as dark as possible and there must be enough space for the projector to ‘throw’ its light onto the surface.

    the cave_ref pic blogAt the CR Annual launch party I had a narrow room of approximately 4m², that could allow a maximum of 6 people viewing each time. The main problem that I had to face were the possible shadows that the viewers could have cast with a usual front projection – that could have completely killed the installation. To solve this problem, I tried to create a projection mapping from behind (my very first time doing this, and, as far as I know, the first ever).

    I modelled the “stage” in 3D and played with it in Cinema4D: a truncated rectangular pyramid could morph into an infinite corridor. Escher, there’s no need to say it, has been the main reference for my animations: playing with different camera focal lengths, inverting the perspective of the pyramid and creating holes, I wanted to cheat the reality. The black and white worked perfectly to enhance the contrast of the projection itself.

    To allow the back-projection, I built the pyramid with a laser cut clear cast acrylic and covered with frost film to allow the light of the projector to bounce on it.
I suspended the pyramid with fishing wires to the ceiling, trying to give the illusion that the structure was floating.

    You can read the whole Creative Review interview here.

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