Imagine stepping into an elevator and looking through a viewport that reveals your ascension to heaven or—if you’re on your way to the street—your descent to hell (appropriately enough).
This interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is precisely the experience video artist Marco Brambilla (director of Demolition Man) and Toronto-based studio Crush were striving for in Civilization, a video mural created for the new Standard hotel in New York City.
The entire mural uses over 400 video sources, including samples from several films—something Brambilla is well-known for in his work. This particular project came with some special technical challenges, though. Crush explains:
We began with exploring the idea of using a game engine to house the project. Seemed easy, map footage onto planes in space, attach a PC to the elevator and we can move up and down in the game environment all day. Unfortunately, once we started to collage the clips together in the Flame we knew the game engine idea wouldn’t fly.
We approximated that we would have 250 looped HD clips in the environment and our Flame could barely handle it (in the end it was closer to 500 looping clips). We compromised by locking ourselves into the idea that we would create a huge vertical canvas that we would scan up and down on once the elevator was in motion. The final piece was approximately 1920 x 7500 pixels.
Read on for a Q&A with Marco Brambillla and detailed notes from Crush’s Sean Cochrane about the technical challenges behind this project.
For commercial work, Marco Brambilla is represented in the US by The Ebeling Group.