Projection Mapping Program Illuminates 25 Toronto Sites With Public Art

April 5, 2022 by Dave Haynes

Projection-mapping on buildings has been around for many years, and technology advances have made it much easier to pull these things off. But there is still much to admire about a program done in Toronto that involved 25 different sites across the city.

BigArtTO was a city-wide temporary public art campaign launched to help residents feel comfortable again about getting out and exploring their neighborhoods as health safety measures eased in late 2020 and into 2021. BigArtTO commissioned (paid) local artists to develop pieces that were projected on a variety of buildings, including museums and  landmark historical buildings like the St. Lawrence Market in the city’s center.

The project used Panasonic projectors, and the company has pushed out a study that reflects what was done, used and why.

As the team began looking for solutions that could be mobilized to display art throughout the city, they first recognized they needed the ability to quickly and quietly install and remove the displays. Given the current health crisis, it was important to minimize the amount of crew needed to execute the project, but they also needed the installations to be ready with only 45 minutes of time on site.

“We realized that we would not be able to set up equipment the traditional way with scaffolding and shelter for a typical outdoor installation,” said Stefan Lenzi, Production Supervisor, BigArtTO, City of Toronto. “Researching the available options, we needed equipment with high impact, easily handled by two to three crew members, as well as low power requirements.”

The city ultimately decided to utilize projectors to display the art in outdoor public spaces – a modern approach that offered the scope they needed to provide gatherers with an engrossing experience while maintaining social-distancing guidelines. With throw distances ranging from 50 to 200 feet, the city needed projectors that could cast images bright enough to compete with the ambient city lights of these populated space without drawing too much power.

After exploring options that met these requirements, the city decided to utilize Panasonic’s high-brightness laser projection solutions – and its experience in projection mapping and art-related projects – to bring these sites to life. The Panasonic team also offered technical support and expertise so the city could focus on making these sites as fluid and engaging for visitors as possible.

“With the [Panasonic] projectors, we don’t have to unload them from the back of the cube truck being used for transport,” Lenzi said. “Everything is contained and protected from the elements, and we have enough room to place up to four projectors at one site for blending.”

The portability and minimal installation requirements of the projectors allowed the program to visit two to three sites per week, meeting the goal of bringing an installation to each of the 25 wards in the city.

“The results have been outstanding,” says Katriina Campitelli, Arts Program Officer, City of Toronto. “The images cut through, and we are really happy with the results. We hope to be able to partner again with Panasonic in the new year as we look at expanding our program.”

This program ran from September 16th, 2020 -January 2021, with each week featuring two or three locations. Each projection will play for three to four hours, Wednesday through Saturday.

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