Friday, January 2, 2015

Perfectly projected coloration

There is an entrancingly cool piece of art happening on the surface of the Reims cathedral. A set of giant projectors are projecting colors onto the ornate carvings, buttresses, doors, windows, and the entire façade of the cathedral.
Usually the cathedral is visible in its imposing white stone mode, which impresses upon us the dour, intricately detailed, and unified front of what I think of as a "standard-issue Catholic cathedral in France". The monotony of the color blends together, imposing its looming mass upon we mere mortals who stand before it. To see the individual details, one must zoom in, move closer, and also be intimately familiar with the canon. Ah yes, this white stone man in robes is carrying a staff and standing next to a white stone man who holds his severed head in his hands, so he must be Saint X and the story is Y and the moral is Z and the significance to the builders/funders of this part of the cathedral is W and...

But projecting colors on the surface takes some of the guesswork away. The projection changed slightly and cycled through a series of choices --- many of them were perfectly aligned with the façade details, so that they seemed to paint the three-dimensional carvings. It was like watching time flow backwards, so that today's venerated white Roman and Greek statues grow back their original bright paint.
Some of the projections also added rose windows over construction tarps.

Overall it was very cool, and we stood in the cold for a long time watching the images cycle and gazing at different parts of the detail. Even the interplay of projected surfaces with the dark ones they occluded (because the single-direction projection can't reach every part of the building, of course) was fascinating.

This post's theme word is anatopism, "the error of placing something out of its proper place; also something placed erroneously." Without a hint, the acolyte would never detect the anatopism in the busy figures of the façade.

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