The City of Pasadena, CA has a new take on public art in the form of a year- round open-air art installation comprising 15'×20' projected images along South Lake Avenue. The artist-submitted still photographs and silent, time-based artworks are shown at dusk every night and run until 11pm.

Project manager and technical consultant David Bradshaw worked with art consultant Michael Maloney and the City's Department of Cultural Affairs for over a year to get approval for the installation. Entitled Projections on Lake because it plays at the Shops on Lake retail development on South Lake Avenue, the first projections began in the fall. The installation has featured screenings of works by local students, special events featuring sound and live VJs, and an art competition that will award five artists $1,000 each every year, including one artist under the age of 18.

“Unlike a more common public art feature, such as a sculpture or mural, I thought this could have more of a living and breathing aspect, in which a program of fine art media, in an eclectic rotating program, could be developed with community involvement along the way,” explains Bradshaw. “On the hardware side, I wanted to design a system that could live beyond my initial involvement and run by itself with minimal maintenance, once all of the programming had been selected.”

A Sanyo PLC-XRF60A projector with a POA-MD19NET Advanced Network RJ-45 control board is networked over the Internet. The computer controlling the networked media player is accessed as a remote desktop over a VPN. Display Devices fabricated an air-conditioned, all-weather housing to shield the projector.

Bradshaw, who has now also taken on the role of curator, uses two Adtec Soloist 4111 HD Digital Media Servers, one on site and one in his studio for testing purposes. They run on a Dell desktop computer using custom software written by Mark Hogan at Electrosonic.

A Vartec Systems stainless steel-enclosed LCD panel displays the program schedule and also runs from the Dell desktop. Drew Mathews fabricated the steel support arm mounting it on to the building. Adobe Premiere is used to prepare the videos as transport-stream MPEG-2 files for use in the Adtec Soloist.

Bradshaw emphasizes that, all along, his goal was to keep the project about the art while engaging the community. “I would hope that the casual viewer or passerby would be drawn in by the beauty or at least thought-provoking unconventionality of the imagery and be compelled to find out what it was and stay around or come back to see more. This project is about the projection, so maintaining the quality of it is paramount,” he notes.

The initial placement of the projector was quite difficult because of the odd angles of the various buildings on the property. Hogan laid out the projector housing in Google SketchUp in order to get the placement and the angle just right. Electrosonic systems designer Benjamin Kidwell Lein put together the computer and media player hardware and the software written by Hogan. “Benj really brought the project together from the technical side and made my vision happen,” Bradshaw explains.

The idea was to have the entire installation managed remotely, so Bradshaw could send video files to the player and tell the computer when to start and what artwork will be shown in what order. The customized software creates an XML file listing the name of the artwork, the artist's name, the year it was created, the medium, and when it shows that particular evening. This information also populates the schedule page on the Projections on Lake website (projectionsonlake.com) and also on a slightly altered scrolling schedule shown on an LCD screen adjacent to the projections. In all, Hogan wrote four custom applets for the project.

Bradshaw hopes the scheduler will eventually hold a week's worth of programming to display different artwork every night of the week without human intervention. The projector comes on via its own built-in scheduler and notifies him via email if it gets too hot or when the bulbs need changing.

Doug O'Connor of CCS Presentation Systems handled the sale of the projector and the housing. Keith Mitchell served as the content management consultant at Electrosonic.