A dancer moves across the stage, and suddenly, they reveal their inner universe…but literally. Their body appears to morph into an expanse of stars.
This is Apparition, a project by Klaus Obermaier and Ars Electronica Futurelab that mixes real-time figure tracking with projection. The result is a dynamically choreographed duet of human and computer, or the marriage of physical movement and algorithmic animation. Because what you see isn’t just careful, pre-programmed staging. It’s real-time visual synthesis, based upon simulated physics.
With closer inspection, you’ll notice two layers to the simulation at work. The most obvious is the human component–a projection that maps perfectly to a silhouette, thanks to a camera tracking system by Hirokazu Kato. The second is the backdrop, which produces various visuals that respond to human movement–particles or vortices that ebb and flow of the stage performance.
I can only imagine how stunning this effect must be live, when there’s no LCD in between you and the dancers, implying to your subconscious the possibility for post production fakery. I can’t help but wonder if this lack of divider is exactly what may make projection relevant into the near future (vs HUDs or other augmented reality solutions like Glass). Either way, it’s certainly been fascinating to watch as the hive mind deciphers real time, 3-D projection. And I’m sure we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Apparition will make its next appearance at the Busan International Performing Arts Festival this May.