Although usually I like to talk about newfangled gadgets and software, a lot of which I'll be sampling this week on the USITT expo floor, I’d like to kick it old-school style and recommend two books I've recently read about projection design.
The first is Staging the Screen: The Use of Film and Video in Theatre by Greg Giesekam published by Palgrave Macmillan in its Theatre and Performance Practices series. In Staging the Screen, Giesekam presents a well-researched and very informative history of projections and video in theatre while also analyzing their use and importance as part of the cultural whole. He raises critical questions about the integration of media and explores how the visual techniques of important theatre artists and evolving methods of media production have specifically confronted the prevailing status quo of theatrical production. The book includes many illustrations and is extremely clear, while also providing detailed and suggestive reports of specific productions both old and contemporary. From the back cover:
The use of film and video is commonplace in contemporary theatre, viewed by some as contaminating theatre's "liveness", by others as inevitable and desirable. After tracing the history of current approaches back to early practitioners such as Méliès, Painlévé and Piscator, Staging the Screen explores in detail recent productions by Svoboda, the Wooster Group, Forkbeard Fantasy, Forced Entertainment, Station House Opera, and Lepage. It charts the impact of developing technologies and addresses critical issues raised by multi-media and intermedia work.
The second book is Art of Projection, edited by Stan Douglas and Christopher Eamon, published by Hantje Cantz. Art of Projection is a collection of essays on projection as an art unto itself, as opposed to an analysis of its specific use in theatre, beginning with the development of photography and continuing through the works of contemporary artist, with a particularly insightful section regarding Andy Warhol's work with projection, specifically his piece, Chelsea Girls. This is another book that is extensively illustrated with many gorgeous color photographs. I highly recommend this to anyone working with projection who is interested in expanding ideas of what projection art is and what it can be. The back cover reads:
Art of Projection investigates the history and current state of the use of projected images in art, moving from the screen to the exhibition space and back again. The volume’s ten essays, written by leading art historians and critics, address precedents for the projection of images in space in nineteenth-century magic lantern shows and world’s fairs as well as the alternative conceptions of duration or the representation of time pioneered by Surrealists and experimental filmmakers in the early and mid-twentieth century. Central to the book is the lacuna between the development of Expanded Cinema in the seventies and the resurrection of many of its techniques in video installations of the nineties: two generations of artists who shared a desire to create experiences of space and time that were an alternative to the conventions adopted and promoted by the culture industry. Now, in the early twenty-first century, when the projection of moving pictures has itself become a convention in art exhibition and when analog media are being “migrated” to digital proxies, Art of Projection is a timely reconsideration of the history of media art.