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Beth Luxton: Painting meets Animation Micro Commission – Projection onto Painting

For my next set of experiments, combining painting and animation, I wanted to explore projecting directly onto my paintings. How could this be done practically, and what imagery would be effective?

This isn’t entirely new territory for me – I had a painting in my degree show back in 2015 featuring a band of projected yellow light; the light reflected off the surface and the colours changed depending on where you stood. I liked the interplay of the transitory digital imagery and the static painting however I haven’t combined the two again, until recently.

Initially, still working with ‘Puncture Wound’, I took the full animation and lay it over the painting. Rather than clashing, as I thought would be the case, the imagery blends together. The shapes and colours are so closely aligned that they clearly relate. Playing continuously, however, there’s no respite to view the painting alone; ideally there would be a break. I’m not convinced I prefer this over showing the painting and full animation separately as ultimately I think it’s too visually busy and detracts from the strengths of each medium.

I moved on to working with a recent painting, ‘I’m Torn’, and created animated elements of the painting in Blender.

For the purpose of working quickly, I created short animations and took screen recordings from the Blender file to save rendering them. Although lower quality, they were sufficient for me to play around with some ideas. Below is an example of this, and the same projected.

I play around with distorted perspectives and misjudgements of space and scale in my paintings, which I extended to the animations. With the next couple of examples, the elements ‘react’ to other areas of the composition, creating a false sense of weight and ground. The surface of the painting is transformed, temporarily, and the two mediums seem to interact however I feel there’s a risk of over complication and the projection becoming a gimmick.

Below is the start of the full animation for ‘I’m Torn’, projected onto the painting. It is a sparser and slower animation than ‘Puncture Wound’ which creates a nicer balance. Practically speaking, as can be seen in the video, I had issues with lighting. Not just for documentation, but the brightness needs to be just right to see both the animation and the painting clearly in person.

I imagine what might be effective is having a full animation on display, separately, combined with intermittent elements of the painting coming alive, as if part of it had been left behind. When there is a gap between the painting and the full animation, as in my previous experiments, it raises certain questions including: What came first? How do they relate? Which is more evocative? I think there needs to be space, a disjoint.

In my next blog post, I’ll be sharing the last in my series of experiments creating an installation using the painting and full animation of ‘I’m Torn’.