he future is here. Each day it advances and each day it trips us out more and more. Combine our ever-expanding and mind blowing technology with the weird new sounds that electronic music introduces and you are left with a whole new type of concert going experience. In the world of stage visuals, Projection Mapping is the future. It turns our dance music shows into visually stimulating journeys out of our own minds and into the minds of the artists we admire.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most epic projection mapped stages we’ve seen in the past few years, so when your dad tells you about how trippy those “LIQUID LIGHT SHOWS” were back when he was a deadhead, give him a taste of these and watch his head explode.
1. BEATS ANTIQUE – A THOUSAND FACES TOUR
BEATS ANTIQUE has always been known for their epic stage performances combining elements of dance, live music, digital music, and immersive storytelling. Their most recent tour “A Thousand Faces,” was based on Joseph Campbell’s idea of the “monomyth” and “THE HERO’S JOURNEY.” The production was a creative collaboration of the minds of OBSCURA DIGITAL, director Ivan Landau, and the members of Beats Antique themselves. Upon first look, the stage design enchants the audience with it’s multi dimensional architecture housing two DJ Booths on either side for Tommy Sidecar and David Satori. The hypnotizing power of Zoe Jakes presence is magnified as the projections move in line with her tantalizing body. The visuals projected are stunning, transforming the stage into a circus, a haunted house, outer space, and a chinese temple. Yet, all of these aspects only touch the surface of the true depth of this performance. Miniature sets, balinese puppets, clay animation, and live acting were all specially created and integrated into the videos that the audience sees projected onto the structure. And during the performance both Tommy Sidecar and David Satori have the capabilities of controlling the special effects and projections throughout the show resulting in a truly unique experience each and every time. As you watch this performance, ideas of dancing or even acknowledging where you are will slowly fade away as you are reeled into your own “hero’s journey,” No drugs required…this time.
2. SHPONGLE: SHPONGLETRON 3.0
SHPONGLE. Just hearing his name can induce intense acid flashbacks. And although the squeaky, wompy, and wonky music is largely responsible for these “mind opening” experiences, the visual performance also plays a large part. ZEBBLER who is the visual artist and video jockey for Shpongle (and EOTO) is a master of tripping people the fuck out. Shpongles music is on it’s whole own level, successfully transporting listeners into other dimensions. It’s not an easy task to create a matching visual experience that can be even crazier than what people see when they close their eyes. But Zebbler has got it down. He created the original Sphongltron for Sphongle’s 2011 US tour which included the infamous “Shpongle Mask” with it’s 6 laser eyes and rotating cubes. This stage was revolutionary for it’s time, but as the popularity with projection mapping has grown, Zebbler wanted to show people that he is still on top of the game. And so forth came the Shpongletron 3.0, just as epic as the first one, but this time with pixel mapped LEDs and infinity boxes embedded within the projection mapped tentacles and platform which engulf Shpongle’s booth.
3. EOTO – LOTUS
EOTO, AKA Michael Travis and Jason Hann of the STRING CHEESE INCIDENT are also masters of tripping the audience out, but instead of using dj equipment, they utilize guitars, keyboards, and drums. To fully serve their purpose, they need a proper visual artist. Once again, Zebbler steps up to the plate. For EOTO’s 2012/2013 tour, Zebbler created a giant projection mapped Lotus from which Michael Travis and Jason Hann rise up as they take the audience away on their musical journey. The visuals flow along smoothly with the band’s constant improvisation, resulting in a truly fluid experience. The Lotus has always been a powerful symbol of finding beauty in a troubled world. Being drawn into a meditative state as we watch the talented musicians within the projection mapped lotus flower helps us to remember us how important music and art is in our fast paced worlds.
4. EXCISION – THE EXECUTIONER
Used as a three-dimensional screen for a high-tech video projection mapping production, the ‘Executioner’ stage first traveled with Excision for his 2013 tour across North America. This unique stage stands approximately 28 feet wide and is approximately 8 feet deep. Based on a three-dimensional surface model, HEAVY INDUSTRIES designed the framework for the stage to be built in 12 modular sections that could be assembled and disassembled with ease using a roto-lock system. The projection surface is made of rigid PVC plastic board, ideal for the angular surface and the projection needs of the project. The heavy robotic imagery designed by BEAMA VISUAL ENVIRONMENTS combined with Excisions tough-as-nails sound makes for a truly eye rattling, brain exploding experience!
5. JANELLE MONAE & M.I.A. – HOLOGRAPHIC DUET
Although the holographic resurrection of TUPAC brought the ideas of holograms back into the minds of many creators, this is anything but a new trick. Remember “Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, You’re my only hope?” But really, creating a hologram is simply done by using an old theatre trick called PEPPER’S GHOST which dates back to the 16th century and involves angled glass, mirrors, and projections. Of course, given our modern technology, we are now able to perfect this trick. And with JANELLE MONAE and M.I.A.’s recent performance, Design Studio VITA MOTUS combined the old simple trick with newer projection mapping technology to create a visually mind blowing experience. Last April 2014, M.I.A. and Janelle Monae performed live duets with each other despite being on the opposite end of the country. By adding a 3d projection mapped stage, a greater sense of depth was added to the illusory experience. The Stage design featured squares spiraling backwards with each and every layer mapped out, creating some sort of futuristic vortex. The idea of the vortex is perfectly fitting for an experience like this where two people can be performing thousands of miles away from each other, but also right next to eachother. Makes you wonder what the future will hold. Exciting? Yes. But scary? Yes, a little bit.
6. DILLON FRANCIS & “THE GARY”
Inspired by the architectural work of FRANK GEHRY (responsible for topsy turvy buildings like The Guggenheim Museum in Spain and The Walt Disney Concert Hall) DILLON FRANCIS teamed up with design group “V SQUARED LABS” to create a multi dimensional abstract DJ Booth. Perfectly fitting for Dillon Francis’s often funky and twisty tunes, the structure turned in and out resulting in a truly eye popping psychedelic experience. Mirrored vinyl lined the inside of the abstract voids to create a fluid performance as well. They teamed up with the “PIZZA SLIME CREW” for “SEAPUNK” type visuals complete with cats, talking hands, and of course pizza.