Civilization (MEGAPLEX)

Title: Civilization (MEGAPLEX), 2008 By: Marco Brambilla
Client: The Standard Hotel, New York
Editor/Research Assistant: Beau Dickson
Assistant: Swapna Tamhane
Production Company: Crush, Toronto
Representation/Images Courtesy of: Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

This is a elevator installation and as you move in the elevator, the footage changes in sync with your movement up/down.

"Marco is very gutsy and bold but also has great respect for collaboration and discovery of ideas that blossom during the process. The project had two huge challenges. Firstly we needed to figure out how to create content that could move with the elevator where it would ultimately be viewed. The idea was this, when you go up in the elevator the content goes down and when you go down it goes up. Not unlike a ride film this project was designed to be synced to the moving environment of the hotel elevators in New York. We wanted to synchronize the footage to the movement of the elevator as best as we could.

The second challenge was creative. What are we seeing through this ‘elevator window’? We only really knew at the beginning that the canvas or environment would be very tall and skinny due to the physics of elevator travel and we wanted to go from a hellish landscape to a heavenly one.

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.

Another technical wrinkle was more human. Would we create motion sickness by subjecting riders on the elevator to the video art? To test this we shot some footage of a rising and falling landscape on a glass enclosed elevator and played back the footage on a 42″ plasma in a fully enclosed elevator. Not one person in the 30 we used in the test got sick so we knew our gut check was all right.

In parallel to the technical research, Marco and his studio staff began the process of researching and collecting a vast amount of footage sampled from both mainstream and more obscure film sources. Marco then assembled still grabs from each piece of sampled footage into photomontages, which we would review weekly while Marco’s editor cut together a linear chronology of what the components in journey from hell to heaven may look like."

civ01


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