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  Oct.22.10 TOUCHDESIGNER at the GUGGENHEIM YOUTUBE PLAY BIENNIAL

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Last night in New York City the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and YouTube in collaboration with HP and Intel, announced the 25 video finalists selected from 23,358 online video submissions from 91 countries, for the YouTube Play Biennial.

Hosted by the Guggenheim museum, YouTube’s first Biennial awards saw Obscura Digital producing the exterior and interior projections for the prestigious event, using TouchDesigner to seamlessly wrap Frank Lloyd Wright's 1959 futuristic spatial helix in a delicious and vertiginous spectacle of moving imagery.

The inner sanctum of the Guggenheim was restricted to 1000 well-heeled guests, film finalists and media-ists who did manage to pack the museum floor and its spiraling expanding galleries. Google’s global live-stream broadcast of the event insured the rest of the world could watch it too.

Under the orchestration of Steve Mason a team of 18 from Obscura Digital brought their seemingly endless combined expertise and keen capacity for graceful problem solving to NYC to map and wrap the complex sculptural space. And made it look easy!

Here's how they did it.  

The interior show was controlled by a single Obscura Fireframe system running TouchDesigner driving 8 other systems-- essentially one for each projector. Obscura built the full 8-High Definition system using TouchDesigner and Obscura-custom code.

Although the 90-minute show was scripted and choreographed to run through all 25 YouTube finalists’ works, much of it was designed to be improvised and interpreted on the fly necessitating an agile and responsive system.

Obscura used TouchDesigner to build a site-specific application to run the entire show of timed projections on both the inside and outside of the Guggenheim, 10 projectors in all.

“There isn't an off-the-shelf software capable of pulling off an event of this complexity and magnitude where both content and artistic vision are entirely specific to the venue and the event. That’s why we designed TouchDesigner as a toolkit for building interactive applications like tonight’s use of it by Obscura.” commented Greg Hermanovic.

Obscura’s projections controlled by live performance veteran Scott Pagano included live camera sources from the stage and performers, elements of the 25 winning entries as well as recorded interviews with jury members who included Laurie Anderson, design superstar Stefan Sagmeister and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.

Steve Mason, Scott Pagano and Greg Hermanovic.

All of this content was choreographed into a 90 minute show sequence where each part of the show had some components-- effects, speeds or virtual lighting, that were exposed in Scott Pagano’s palette to be performed in realtime.

During certain parts of the show, colors were sampled from the video being webcast and used to light the 3D scenes, and in other instances the audio waveform was sampled and used to alter the imagery.

The Guggenheim's director Richard Armstrong said of the event, "The Guggenheim's ongoing commitment to new media compelled the museum to establish YouTube Play, the first biennial of online video to be organized by a major museum of contemporary art." Mr. Armstrong continued, "In the last two decades, the moving image has been fully absorbed into critical contemporary-art practices. The Guggenheim, together with YouTube, and HP and Intel, harnessed their collective expertise to create YouTube Play to celebrate this art form and the Internet's power to catalyze and disseminate new forms of digital media."

Amazing night. Channel Views to date = 23,165,281.

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