My Review of the Projection Mapping Show at Casa Batlló for ISE 2024
On Jan. 28, most of the rAVe team was spending their first full day in Barcelona, enjoying free time and exploring the city. We chose to end our day by visiting Casa Batlló, on the iconic Passeig de Gràcia avenue. A special event to mark the beginning of ISE 2024, there would be a projection mapping show over the front of the building known as Antoni Gaudí’s finest masterpieces. The show was designed by artist Sofia Crespo, and would include an exploration of organic life through the lens of artificial intelligence.
Crespo seems the natural choice to design this year’s show (last year, Refik Anadol designed the projection mapping show on the same building). Her work balances similar themes to Anadol’s while adopting its own style of color and textures.
According to the Casa Batlló website, “In this case, Sofia has used neural networks (AI) trained to encompass the variety of natural forms that Gaudí included in Casa Batlló and other works, making them interact with 3D scans of the facade. Previously, she conducted a thorough analysis of the different species present in Casa Batlló, from living beings to minerals and shells, classifying them into species, genres, and natural phenomena.”
Also, in a collaboration, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centrol Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) participated in the aquatic sequence of the mapping, “providing high-resolution ocean circulation models that allowed for simulating small-scale whirlpools and play a crucial role in sea temperature.”
You can check out the full show here, as recorded by our very own Kirsten Sharpe.
Emily Dean, our head of marketing (and on Jan. 28, rAVe’s top reporter) was lucky enough to snag an interview with the projection team between showings (the show took place on Jan. 27 (first session: 21:00, last session: 22:30) and Jan. 28 (first session: 19:00, last session: 22:30) and was also also livestreamed on the Casa Batlló website).
“The piece was obviously inspired by Gaudi and his passion for natural form, so what we did here was basically research the natural forms that inspired his work, so we trained several models and tried to render them,” said Crespo, when Dean asked about her inspiration behind the design.
You can check out the full interview below:
The design process took the artist about three months from conception to final product, and utilizes Panasonic projectors.
According to the design team, the biggest challenge was generating visuals successfully on the building’s facade (which, as many of you know, is not flat).
If you’re wondering about my thoughts on the show, I’ll preface by saying I’m not an expert on projection mapping. I am also not an artist. I will say, however, that I loved Crespo’s use of color, texture and sense of magic. Her show was expertly timed with the music, making for an awe-inspiring 10 minutes. However, my one critique is that I wished her show utilized the shapes and textures already on the building a little bit more. For a good bit of the show, it felt more like regular projection than it did projection mapping. I would have loved to see more animations that utilize the shapes of the windows, the uneven texture on the outside of the building, the roof, etc. I would, of course, still recommend that you check out the video and decide for yourself!
Either way, the show was a great way to prepare us for ISE 2024 — if this was any hint for what the show will bring, I am extremely excited!