2020 was a challenging year for many people. Calls for social distancing and shelter-in-place orders kept many indoors for the better part of the year. As life adjusted to this new reality, the limited opportunities for recreation and fun had a negative impact on people’s outlook and emotions.
The Tech Decision
With the year winding down and the promise of a better 2021, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) wanted to inspire the people living and working downtown by bolstering their yearly PRISM: Winter Lights event at Woodruff Park.
To accomplish this, the ADID’s Art & Entertainment District teamed up with Digital Projection and Display Devices to create a public display unlike anything the city has seen before.
Woodruff Park, located in the very heart of Atlanta, is considered by many who live there to be their backyard. Surrounded by skyscrapers, parking decks, and local businesses, it is a rare green space shared by members of the community from all walks of life.
With such an important and central location, the park has also hosted the PRISM: Winter Lights event for the past two years.
After an unprecedented and challenging 2021, however, the ADID expanded the event to add some extra excitement in the downtown neighborhood.
Featuring a water theme complete with light-based landmark sculptures, the ADID also utilized the famous International Peace Fountain; a long, curved, flowing waterfall at the northern end of the park.
Curated by the team of public art designers at Dashboard, this particular display had the unique challenge of literally blending light with water.
“When we designed PRISM, we created beacons of light that would make people want to immediately stop and come inside the park for a closer look. We wanted to create that same effect on this magnificent fountain,” says Executive Director and Co-founder of Dashboard, Beth Malone.
To achieve this, Dashboard brought in New Media and Video Artist Kris Pilcher.
Specializing in video and projection mapping, the Atlanta-based artist was immediately taken with the project.
“I’ve had my eye on the fountain for a long time and was entranced with the prospect of using the waterfall as a medium,” says Pilcher. “This piece blends photons and H₂0 molecules – two vital components for life. With the way 2020 has been, anything that is a celebration of life is important.” For his content, Pilcher chose works from local artists, animating the static art pieces and designed transitions to make them dynamic for this unique display.
To display this artwork on a continuously moving, low-lit fountain, the curators would need a powerfully bright display solution that could contend with the outdoor environment and frigid temperatures for the 2-month duration of the program. That task was accomplished by the innovative teams at Digital Projection and Display Devices.
Working together with Digital Projection, Display Devices constructed a projection tower complete with its own HVAC and processing hardware systems, and powered by a fleet of (8) high-performance M-Vision 21000 laser projectors.
Producing a total of 168,000 lumens and flanked with architectural lighting to frame the color-rich projector spectrum, the 12.5ft tall by 72ft wide display is breathtaking. The open and curved design of the space, along with colorful content on moving water is immersive and mesmerizing to the viewer.
“After speaking with the city and the artists, we knew this location held a lot of significance for downtown, and that this display needed to be something that would make people excited to get outside in the neighborhood,” says David Schmitt, director of sales and business development, at Display Devices. “So, we set out to make it as bright and colorful as possible. The M-Vision 21000’s balance of power and image quality made it a great fit for this project.
“Working with Digital Projection has been a truly seamless collaboration. Their customer-focused mindset matches ours perfectly and helped us make the most out of this unique solution,” he says.
When the display was unveiled on opening night, visitors were captivated by the extraordinary conjunction of water and light. The reaction from the public has been well-received, with visitors stopping on their way through the park to admire the content and take pictures.
“We’re incredibly happy with how the piece resonates with people. It’s a safe way for the community to enjoy the work of local artists,” says Fredalyn M. Frasier, Planning and Urban Design Project Manager with the ADID.
“Woodruff park is one of my favorite places to be and it’s always been my dream to get people excited about seeing artwork in the places they call home. The waterfall display certainly does that and then some,” says Malone.
The program also celebrated the New Year holiday with a collection of new content centered around a message of hope.
Again, utilizing local artistry, Pilcher designed this new piece with a theme of perseverance. Having seen the display in every stage of its development, Pilcher had this to say about the exhibit overall,
“It’s been a monumental success – and a perfect exhibit for the current atmosphere. It brings people to the park, where they can enjoy the outdoors and their city, all while keeping socially distant. There have even been a few music videos shot in front of the display,” Pilcher says.
“I’ve used Digital Projection in past projects, and I love their projectors. They are some of the best that I have worked with and I’m eager to create more pieces like this in the future.”