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Dataton’s large-scale projection brings Van Gogh to life

Dataton syncs music, video and photography to immerse audiences in their favourite paintings as Van Gogh show tours the world.

Dataton syncs music, video and photography to immerse audiences in their favourite paintings as Van Gogh show tours the world Dataton’s Watchout is being used as the image-control backbone for Van Gogh Alive – The Experience – a travelling exhibition that redefines audiences’ appreciation of fine art. Conceived and executed by Australian-based Grande Exhibitions, Van Gogh Alive sees some of the painter’s most famous works displayed on huge projection screens as part of a uniquely engaging multimedia show. The artist’s paintings are inter-cut with full-motion video and photographs of some of the locations that inspired him between the years 1880 and 1890, and there are more than 3000 images in all. The show is synchronised to a powerful classical score, and the whole automated production is triggered and controlled by Watchout. “Grande Exhibitions had used Watchout before on other projects so it was the natural choice for Van Gogh Alive,” commented Dean Stevenson of Interactive Controls, Dataton’s partner for Australia and New Zealand. “When Van Gogh Alive made its debut we built and supplied a 30-output system to drive content to all of the projectors,” said Stevenson. “As well as ensuring that all the media are in sync, Watchout also allows Grande to automate the processing so that a group of projectors can go from showing individual images to a single one and then back again. This is essential for a show like Van Gogh Alive where the element of surprise is key – you never know what you’re going to be looking at next, or where it will be.” Rather than edge-blending images together, the design of Van Gogh Alive places screens a short distance apart from each other, with some screens at right angles and others in parallel. This encourages visitors to move around and between the screens during the show, exploring nooks and crannies, viewing favourite pictures from a new perspective, and immersing themselves in the vibrant colours of Van Gogh’s paintings. “The idea of immersing the audience in art is key to Van Gogh Alive,” Stevenson continued. “You see projected images everywhere – not just in front of you and behind you but also above you, on the ceiling, and even on the floor beneath your feet. So the show really uses Watchout’s image-processing capabilities to the full.” Another key attribute of Van Gogh Alive is that the show can be scaled to suit each installation. Having had its world première at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore last year, the show is now playing at Antrepo 3 in Istanbul, Turkey, and at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, USA. “For the Phoenix installation – Interactive Controls built and supplied a new system that has 10 multi-output computers running the show, each with its own licence of Watchout Version 5,” said Stevenson. “As Van Gogh Alive tours the world, Grande will be able to tailor the system and use different configurations of Watchout, depending on the exact configuration of screens at each host venue.”