Scharff Weisberg has again teamed up with internationally-renowned contemporary artist Doug Aitken to provide AV support for another of his large-scale outdoor public projects, this time as part of Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. The exhibition not only poses the questions, “Are there other forms of life in the universe?” and “Can art help us explore the universe?” it asks if the human race has turned Earth into an alien planet itself.
Aitken’s Migration, projected on the front and rear façades of the museum, juxtaposes images of animals—beaver, deer, owl, buffalo, horse, mountain lion and more—with pristine human environments devoid of people. The 18-minute HD video loop, which shows a beaver in a bathtub, a cougar dismantling a bed, a bull flipping furniture, and a horse watching wild horses on TV among other animal/motel room activities, is displayed every evening until 3am through January 11, 2009.
Last year Scharff Weisberg supported the AV aspects of Aitken’s groundbreaking multi-screen cinematic experience on seven façades of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in midtown Manhattan. The installation ran from January 16-February 12, 2007. Aitken has a reputation for creating innovative contemporary video art by fracturing narrative structure across multi-screen environments and challenging viewers’ perceptual capacities.
Migration features two mammoth 90x30-foot images projected on the museum’s front façade on Forbes Avenue and rear façade facing the parking lot. The content was shot on 35mm film and edited and mastered in HD.
A Dataton Watchout system from Scharff Weisberg feeds Christie Roadie HD18k projectors, two per image with a center blend. The system is controlled and monitored over a wide-area WiFi system using Medialon control software. Each projector/computer pair is housed in a custom-engineered and fabricated watertight enclosure, which includes a sophisticated heating/air conditioning system. Two of the enclosures are positioned on the roof of a University of Pittsburgh dormitory located across from the museum; a crane was required to lift the equipment into place.
“The most notable features of the project are its length and the engineering required to make sure the system would run at peak performance during spring, summer, fall and winter weather,” notes Scharff Weisberg president and partner Josh Weisberg. “To support this, the Medialon system incorporates a sophisticated telemetry and notification component that tracks projector parameters, such as lamp hours, as well as internal temperatures and reports that data to a website along with constantly-updated thumbnails of the projected images.”
TJ Donohue was project manager for Scharff Weisberg with Barry Grossman project engineer and Tom Whipple projection technician. Three-Byte Intermedia furnished the Watchout/Medialon programming.
"Josh Weisberg and his crew helped make this important project a reality,” says Maureen Rolla, deputy director at Carnegie Museum of Art. “We're grateful for their expertise and professionalism."
“At Scharff Weisberg we look at our involvement in art projects as an opportunity to expand our horizons beyond the corporate and theater work that is our core business. Working with great artists like Doug not only expands our horizons technically but culturally and allows us to work with content of an uncommonly high caliber,” says Weisberg. “The Migration project is notable due its extended length and we’re interested to see if the piece, which is now a very visible part of the Pittsburgh landscape, becomes iconic.