British artist Isaac Julien’s latest art installation, “Ten Thousand Waves,” has been shown successfully in several cities across the world; more recently it was featured at the Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, where it played as part of a wider exhibition called “Unfinished Journeys.”
The art, however, is not displayed on canvas; rather, it uses projection technology. For the exhibit, projectiondesign has supplied nine of its F32 DLP projectors for this endeavor.
Julien is a long-time user of projectiondesign technology. “When you are putting on a piece of work like this, you rely on a fantastic image. You need a certain color depth, you need color saturation, and you need depth of field. Contrast ratio is also important. Projectiondesign projectors give us all this and more,” he says about his use of the F32 for “Ten Thousand Waves.”
The AV system for the installation was designed by ArtAV. Nick Joyce, the company’s owner, says all nine of the F32s are running at 1080p resolution.
“The unique thing about this system is that we output uncompressed, high-definition video,” Joyce adds. “We started with 35mm film as a source, then went through a digital intermediate copy that remained completely uncompressed. So the image quality is highly accurate and true to the imagery that Isaac has shot and edited.”
As well as the projection system, ArtAV also supplied its own media syncronizer, integrated with Blackmagic Design HyperDecks, and a 9.2-channel surround-sound system using Anthony Gallo Micro loudspeakers.
Joyce says the nature of the room at the Oslo museum brought another of projectiondesign’s advantages to the fore: “The space in the room was tight to install the work. It’s a listed building and we weren’t able to fix anything at all to the structure of the room. So there were a couple of instances where we had what seemed like impossible projection angles,” he says. “Being able to use short-throw lenses with the F32s was an absolute must. Without the choice of lenses, the installation simply wouldn’t have worked.”
Inspired by the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, in which 21 illegal Chinese immigrants were drowned off the Lancashire coast in the UK after becoming cut off by the incoming tide while collecting cockles, “Ten Thousand Waves” examines contemporary Chinese identity and the story it has taken from the country’s centuries-old mythology.
Julien spent many months in China researching for the work, before filming in a number of rural and urban locations with an entirely Chinese cast. “The Morecambe Bay disaster was a great tragedy and also a great controversy,” Julien says. “And it made me ask a lot of questions. Where did these people come from? Why did they come? What did they leave behind in China?”
“Ten Thousand Waves” offers three different narratives set in different times in Chinese history, and Julien uses the simultaneous projection of multiple AV content streams to allow these narratives to weave in and out of each other. Once inside the installation, the viewer can focus on a particular story, move from one to another, or step back and allow the diversity of the artist’s content to make its own unique impact.
Maria Dahl Aagaard, product marketing manager at projectiondesign, adds, “We are especially proud to know that our projection technologies have been used by ArtAV for this installation by such a respected international artist as Isaac Julien at one of the world’s finest cultural institutions.
The final word goes to the artist himself, Isaac Julien: “When I show my work to a curator or a museum, I recommend projectiondesign because their projectors just sing with my images. I’ve worked with them for ten years and have never been disappointed.”