The Art of Outdoor Projection
Art Month Sydney allows Epson and Be Productions to demonstrate their wares and Sydney artists their digital media talents.
Surviving Covid has been bad news for all manner of festivals worldwide. Art Month Sydney proved to be a bright spot amongst the gloom. In 2021, the festival staged some 157 events, welcoming 15,000-plus visitors.
Art Month Sydney creates a platform for a new generation of contemporary artists to be noticed and to create connections with established artists. Of course, the public is the winner, with an abundance of opportunities to be exposed to great art across multiple venues around Sydney.
This year, Epson joined as a major sponsor of Art Month Sydney. Epson, partnering with BE Productions, used the festival to show its wares at a number of outdoor sites where highly engaging, immersive and interactive, projection of digital artwork attracted audiences after dark.
Marc McAvoy, Director of Be Productions, inspected various possible projection sites with the festival director before determining the best locations in the art-world hotspots of East Sydney, Paddington and Chippendale.
Be Productions specialises in outdoor projection. It’s well known for providing system for outdoor cinema during the warmer months; guerrilla-style outdoor advertising; and being in demand during the long nights of winter for alfresco projection.
Principally, its inventory is based on Epson stock, including the EB-L25000UNL 25,000-lumen units, along with 15K [EB-L1755U], 12K [EB-L1505UH] and 7K [EB-L1075U] laser 3LCD projectors.
“Our workhorse is Epson’s 15,000-lumen model [EB-L1505UH],” explains Marc McAvoy. “It’s out on hire much of winter, especially. It’s bright enough for most of what we do, but it’s also compact, versatile and priced well.”
The old brickworks building in Sydney’s Central Park was the festival’s largest pixel canvas but, again, was ably covered by three portrait-stacked EB-L25000UNL 25,000-lumen Epson laser light source projectors. “We were hit by a crazy rain storm that night,” recalls Marc McAvoy. “But it all went ahead without a hitch. We were all dancing around in the rain and enjoying the occasion.” (Photo: Maclay-Heriot)
RUN & GUN
Be Productions is famous for showing up and painting an outdoor space with amazing high-brightness projected images in no time flat. It’s what Marc McAvoy and his crew pride themselves in. They can roll up to a site and pixel map, double-stack and/or edge blend massive images onto walls, the sides of sky scrapers, and landmark buildings in the time it takes most other crews to unspool some power cable.
Part of the Be Productions secret sauce is years of experience, the other part is a self-contained, go anywhere projection cart that Marc and his team devised.
The cart is based on a trike with a large front storage ‘basket’ housing enough battery firepower to power a projector for a full four hours of use. The cart also acts as the staging point for the projector.
“These carts allow us to be fully autonomous. We can bring projection into spaces where a van or a ute often just can’t access. And being independent of mains power is a huge advantage in so many applications. Including during Art Month Sydney where we provided outdoor projection at the Rosalind Gallery. Accessing power would have been an issue, but not for our crew: we rolled into the space and had the projection lined up and ready in 10 minutes.”
Be Productions’ guerrilla projection demands almost always require portrait-oriented projection. Often the Epson laser projectors are tilted upwards, above the horizontal to fulfil the brief.
“Tilting the projectors upwards isn’t something most lamp-based high-brightness projects can do. That’s been a huge selling point for us. Epson’s understanding of laser technology and the 3LCD prism is just incredible. They’ve really nailed it when it comes to that laser technology.”
Projection cart: The heavy duty trike includes deep cycle batteries and an Epson high brightness projector as payload to provide some four hours of projection without recourse to mains power. All up, the cargo weighs in at around 100kg — which can be a slow going for a tricyclist, especially up hill. Marc McEvoy is looking into an eBike upgrade for his carts to provide a little more impetus.
Marc McAvoy has noticed the demand for large-scale outdoor projection grow from the novelty of outdoor cinema to ‘sky’s the limit’ pixel mapping and Vivid festival-style avant-garde media. Epson has made a serious move into high-brightness projection and pushed the price of 10K to 30K projection down to affordable levels — effectively helping to create a new market for ‘why not?’ environmental projection.
Certainly Art Month Sydney has demonstrated something about artists that we’ve known for centuries: namely, that they engage with new technologies and create stunning new art in the process.