In a prelude to the opening of Ashes and Snow, an exhibition of photographs by photographer and filmmaker Gregory Colbert, Scharff Weisberg Staging created an outdoor projection displayed on the exterior of The Nomadic Museum, which houses the show from March 5 to June 6.
Colbert created the museum, located in New York City on Hudson River Park’s Pier 54, as a transient structure to permanently house his exhibition as it tours. He worked with avant-garde Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who used 148 shipping containers stacked in a self-supporting grid to form its walls and draped gigantic sails for the roof.
Ashes and Snow consists of more than 200 large-scale images of people communing with whales, elephants, and other animals taken during Colbert’s travels over 13 years to places like Burma and India. His images attempt to recover a lost time when man and other animals shared a common language. Colbert debuted the show in 2002 at the Venice Biennale’s Arsenale.
Scharff Weisberg was charged with projecting an 11-minute cut of the High Definition video presentation shown in the museum onto its exterior for the week before the opening. At sunset, exterior lights were dimmed and the projection, which shows people dancing with elephants and other animal-man encounters, commenced.
Scharff Weisberg faced a number of challenges throughout the project, like the sheer scale of projecting imagery across an area almost 700’ wide. With the museum’s location on a riverside pier, options for projector placement were limited. Scharff Weisberg placed nine 12K lumen DLP projectors under tents on the pier north of the museum, using the longest zoom lenses available to span the distance, says project manager Derek Holbrook. Three Barco SLM R10, two Barco SLM R12, and four Digital Projection 28SX projectors were employed along with six Barco SLM TLD 508 zoom lenses and four Digital Projection 7-15:1 GV zooms. New York City’s weather didn’t cooperate either; a fierce snowstorm hit during setup week.
The shipping containers on which the projection was set were either maroon in color or covered in text, less than optimal surfaces for projecting the presentation. Therefore, the projection was moved to the sloping roof, which required reprogramming. The images were ultimately projected on the roof in a checkerboard pattern with different start times.
"Scharff Weisberg was a great partner on this project," says William Goins, president of Goshow Entertainment who served as project manager for the museum’s construction. "This project had more than its share of challenges from weather to sequencing the images to projecting onto what amounted to the largest screen ever."
Josh Nissim of Scharff Weisberg Media Resource Center handled the technical formatting and encoding of the artist’s content. They converted 1920x108024P HDCAM to 1280x720P24P, HDMPEG 2 for compatible playback from the Dataton Watchout system. A Dataton Watchout slave rack and router allowed the presentation to have staggered starts and loop smoothly over a long period of time.
The Bianimale Foundation contributed to the cost of building The Nomadic Museum for Ashes and Snow, a project wholly in keeping with the aim of the Foundation to encourage artistic expression that increases public awareness of environmental, social, and cultural issues.
After Ashes and Snow finishes its New York run, the Nomadic Museum will be reassembled in Los Angeles, then on to Beijing and Paris.