Cast Courts, Gallery 46 A, captured from the Victoria and Albert Museum's film
In this case study, the location of CASTING was a core element in relation to my inquiry. The site—the Cast Courts, Gallery 46A of the V&A—was both the subject and object for my projection. First opened in 1873, the Cast Courts were built to exhibit one of the most comprehensive collections of casts of post-classical European sculpture. The gallery houses the V&A’s largest objects.
Plaster Cast, Trajan’s Column; being casted at the V&A. 113 (made). 1864 (cast)
I adopted the architectural casts as the site of my installation for two reasons, the first of which followed from the twofold meaning of the Cast Courts. Each cast is simultaneously a standalone sculptural object and a record of a real environment. Decontextualized from their respective sites, the casts are now grouped in a single gallery at the V&A. I was attracted to the dual identity of the casts, which are reproductions yet a unique collection in the museum.
As such, a second reason for this undertaking was that the Cast Courts’ collections are not originals but reproductions, prompting diverse reactions (Figure 7.1). As I detailed earlier, the dominant opinions of the Cast Courts in 1920s and 1930s were not favourable because they do not present real, authentic, original pieces. This issue of copy versus original is significant in digital media, given that the notion of originality does not strictly exist in the digital realm, as everything can be transformed into something else by editing the binary code. The copy versus original ontology was particularly relevant for my case study because the notion of originality does not strictly exist in projection mapping, which uses digital moving images. However, projection mapping entails a somewhat different ontology; despite its digital nature, it exists only when incorporated with its physical environment.
I was thus drawn to the Cast Courts because they represent historical and situational contexts simultaneously. In the first case study, I focused on the historical context of the bank cabinet, and in the second, I aimed to subvert the institutional context of the white cube space. I wanted to interrogate both types of context in this case study. The gallery was built specifically to house the casts, connecting the objects (the casts) and their environment (the Cast Courts) in an essential way. Consequently, I attempted to take in the Cast Courts’ objects and the environment as a whole to investigate what type of relationship projection mapping could generate between the projection surface, moving image, and space. To do this, I focused on the surrounding spatial situation of the casts in the Cast Courts, not the individual histories of each cast. I titled this project CASTING because I intended to ‘cast the casts’ through my digital projection, both in their given sense as artificial casts of original objects, and in terms of ‘casting’ as enlisting them as actors in a moving image production. In so doing, I aimed to reinvigorate the meaning of the objects and the room by transforming it into an active environment.
for more information about the Cast Courts, visit >> V&A Cast Couts site
Conceptual diagram for CASTING
3D environment designed for CASTING
As in the two previous studies, I began by building a virtual model of the space using Maya software, but this time I built the model of the entire gallery, including all the casts. I did not plan to map all of them, but including them in the model was necessary because I aimed to investigate the spatial dynamic between the projected objects and the space. Therefore, I had to consider the scale, the position of each cast, and the distance between them in observing the space. I also needed to examine carefully the multiple viewing points of the Cast Courts within the virtual model. By doing this, I could select the casts for my projection.
Consequently, I decided to map three individual casts: Trajan’s Column (Rome, Italy), the Western Portal of the Cathedral of St Sauveur (Aix-en-Provence, France), and the Shreyer-Laundauer monument from St Sebaldus (Nuremberg, Germany).
In choosing these, I was concerned more with generating an overall environment than with the specific meaning of each cast. My primary focus was the meaning of ‘cast’ as situated in the Cast Courts rather than the individual historical backgrounds or content of the selected casts. For the same reason, I chose casts with diverse origins. I intended to investigate how the individual casts, the digital moving-imagery, and the surrounding space form a distinctive relationship through the layer of digital projection that connects them.
List of the selected three casts
installation diagram of CASTING, Yiyun Kang © Victoria & Albert Museum
Above figure presents the diagram of the final installation. To map Trajan’s Column, which is 3.83 meters in diameter and 16 meters tall, a projector needed to be installed at the bridge on the first floor to secure sufficient distance. Five short-throw projectors were used, as Trajan’s Column and the Shreyer-Laundauer monument required double-projections to secure sufficient brightness.
Making animation for CASTING using Maya software
The next step was to map the objects and produce the moving-image. Unlike in the previous case studies in which I used multiple software applications, I used only Maya software to render 3D digital animation for the three casts. They were black and white animations composed of dynamic movements of geometrical shapes, and I exploited virtual lights to cast shadows in order to add a dynamic atmosphere to the static, massive volumes of the casts.
I aimed to create moving images that added sharp contrast to the low reliefs of the three casts depicting historical and religious stories. To do this, I first performed a structural analysis of each cast by closely observing the structural features, which included a cylinder (Trajan’s Column) and triptych (Shreyer-Laundauer monument). Next, I added my own structural transformations using 3D software. I divided each structure virtually, moved the segments, and re-assembled them. Finally, I added a virtual light to emphasize these structural sequences. Through this process, I made a 3D animation for each cast.
Still images from the animation
These animations were connected to projection surfaces through the mapping process. I mapped them onto the three casts, respectively, using MadMapper software in the real venue: the Cast Court, Gallery 46 A.
Slide show, Photo © Yiyun Kang
Slide Show, Click to enlarge the images