Recently, Paris’ Grand Palais was awash in the cascade of a virtual waterfall, transforming the beaux-arts palace into a captivating scene from the lost city of Atlantis. TeamLab, a Japanese collective of technologists and artists, used 3D projection mapping to create the holographic play of light and shadow, while maintaining a fidelity to the laws of physics.
The artists calculated the movement of the waterfall by creating a 3D model of the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées in a virtual computer environment and allowing water to cascade over it. “The water is expressed as continuum of hundreds of thousand of water particles that flow in accordance with how the computer calculates the interaction of the particles,” teamLab explained in a post on its website.
“Once an accurate water flow simulation has been constructed, 0.1 percent of the water particles are selected and lines drawn in relation to them. The waterfall is expressed as the combination of these lines.” The torrents of water fall with arresting slowness and are deflected as they “collide” with the silent statues and columns of the magnificent building.
TeamLab, the brains behind Tokyo’s interactive hanging gardens and LED Christmas trees, programmed a slight time lag into the cascade as a nod to their Japanese ancestors, who perceived time and space as “on a longer axis.”
The artists allege that only if one “does not feel a barrier between them and the waterfall,” or, in other words, cedes their full attention, can the viewer truly experience the artwork’s underlying intent. The projection mapping light show was created as part of the Art Paris Art Fair 2015.