PhD Seminar Series: Howard Griffin

The next PhD Seminar will be given by Howard Griffin, MA Architectural Visualisation programme director, on Wednesday 14th March at 4pm in the Digital Crit Space.

Moving the immovable: projection-mapping and the changing face of architecture

The ‘lumière’ festival has, in recent years, become an established form of public festival, with many cities and heritage sites seizing the opportunity to attract large audiences and increase tourism revenues.  Lumière festivals now benefit from the advance in digital technology, which allows light to be mapped to specific surfaces and spaces through projection.  This form of light installation, known as projection-mapping, delivers an added sense of spectacle, with onlookers taking the chance to witness momentary changes to the urban canvas, engaging with buildings in new ways.

At night, artificial light shapes the space around us, highlighting routes, exposing features, forming shadows, and provides architecture an altered, arguably dynamic, identity. Whether by candle, fire, gas or electricity, light has the capacity to change the way we see the space about us.  Projection mapping amplifies this, allowing artists to explore notions of altered façade, and changes to character, style and materiality.

The visual sense dominates particularly when judging scale, distance, texture and so on.  Experience informs us that most buildings are inanimate; solid objects designed for strength and security.  Yet, albeit briefly, our eyes disagree.  Projection-mapping can create illusions that change the very nature of architecture, causing the viewer to subconsciously question and review the alterations that seem to occur.  Windows can spin.  Walls can wobble.  Buildings can move.  Torre (2015) argues that buildings ‘concretize’ animation, giving depth to two-dimensional image.  However, it could be argued that projection-mapping liberates the built environment, animating the inanimate, moving the immovable.

This presentation will explore the methods used in projection mapping to deceive and skew perception of architectural form and space, and argues that this form of light show installation not only conjures and deceives, but develops new relationships between people and the cities and buildings around us.

Lifting the veil for Dreamland

On Sunday 22nd March, Howard Griffin, MA Architecture and Visualisation Programme Director successfully projected onto the side of the old Dreamland cinema building in Margate. The Painted Veil, starring Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall and George Brent was the first feature film to be shown at the original cinema, which was built after the success of the Dreamland Amusement Park and was opened to the public on the 22nd March 1935.

Howard said “The aim of the installation was to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Dreamland Cinema building by projecting the first feature film to be shown in 1935.  The projection of The Painted Veil onto the facade of the cinema, rather than a simple canvas or screen, allowed the building itself to become an ‘actor’ in the display.  Seeing the brickwork ‘breathe’, coming alive with light of Greta Garbo was a gratifying experience and one which I hope was a fitting tribute to both film and building.”

Howard is also currently working with The Dreamland Trust to produce a series of time-lapse videos which show the restoration work being undertaken at the park, including the restoration of the Scenic Railway.

To view Howard’s other work and find out more, please visit www.photogriffin.com.

MAAV students win an award

MAAV_award

Two students on the MA Architectural Visualisation programme have won an award for their Outstanding Visualisation Portfolios. Max Lenton from Miller Hare presented the award to Ruben Chitu and Joseph Sheng after their graduation at Canterbury Cathedral last week. Both Ruben and Joseph have landed positions with Miller Hare since completing their MA.

Programme Director Howard Griffin said, ‘I’m thoroughly pleased for both Reuben and Joseph and wish them all the best for the future. This prize offered by Miller Hare further cements our relationship with industry and builds on our successful internship opportunities’.

Howard Griffin – Moving the immovable

Howard Griffin will be giving a talk entitled Moving the immovable on Wednesday 9th July at 7.30pm in The Gulbenkian as part of Digibury.

The development of digital projection technology has enabled urban-scale projection to become bigger, brighter and arguably more immersive.

This increase in technological capability has encouraged a new generation of artists to use imagery to alter architectural and urban environments, provoking interaction, response and a skewing of the perception of ordinarily familiar form and space. With the ability of this medium to change the very nature and aesthetic of the urban environment, Howard is currently researching the perceptive effect that this can have.

Drawing from experience of a number of projects, Howard will discuss the field of Architectural Projection Mapping and its distinction from urban cinematic projections.

Virtual Heritage in Penang

Howard Griffin, Programme Director of the MA Architectural Visualisation, travelled to Penang, Malaysia to present his work on Virtual Heritage to members of the Georgetown Heritage Inc. and staff and students of the Universiti Sains Malaysia. The presentation looked at different aspects of digital integration in heritage work, including 3D site scanning, 3D animation and the use of CGI in the film industry.  The presentation also highlighted the work of the MA Architectural Visualisation students and English Heritage to ‘re-create’ St. Augustine’s Abbey and monastery in Canterbury using games engine technology.

The use of games technology to recreate historic buildings is seen as a key component in the dissemination of heritage knowledge.  Howard Griffin explained that the opportunity, “…for people to not merely view the past, but participate in it, is an important development.  We have seen this with games, such as Assassin’s Creed, in which the player is able to navigate the streets of ancient cities.”  Howard also went on to present the work to the students and staff at the Fakulti Senibina Perancangan & Ukur (Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Kuala Lumpur.

The initial phase of the St. Augustine’s Abbey project is due to be completed in May, when a second phase of evaluation and feedback on the immersive effects of the game will begin.  It is hoped that further collaborations on Virtual Heritage will be possible in the future.

Visualising our History

Architectural Visualisation students were treated to an insight into the past when English Heritage visited the school to talk about the nearby St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.  The archaeological site is the subject of the students’ latest project, Virtual Cities, which redirects techniques and skills typically used to visualise prospective architectural proposals, to reanimate the past.

The project will see students rebuild the Abbey to its former glory prior to the suppression by King Henry VIII in the 1530s.  The virtual model is designed to be fully navigable, allowing audiences the chance to experience the abbey complete with interpretations of the interior spaces and decoration.

Howard Griffin, Programme Director of the MA Architectural Visualisation courses said, “This is an exciting collaboration between the School of Architecture and English Heritage.  Our students have the chance to work with archaeological experts in recreating the past.  Much of the learning students are engaged with on this course is aimed at visualising the future.  However, we can use these same processes and skills to recreate the past as well.  Using real-time games technology allows audiences to navigate their way through a space in a way which cannot be achieved with simple computer animation.”

The project presents new challenges to the students, who ordinarily can rely on accurate architect’s drawings as a source of information.  Most of the Abbey and outer buildings were destroyed and little evidence remains of large parts of the site.  Collections Curator at English Heritage, Rowena Willard-Wright explained, “This project will be like building a jigsaw puzzle, but with only 3 pieces remaining.”

The first stage of the St. Augustine Abbey project is due to be completed by spring, with additional work and detailing to be completed later.