Woodruff Park, located in the very heart of Atlanta, Georgia is considered by many who live there to be their backyard. Surrounded by skyscrapers, parking decks and local businesses, it is a precious green space shared by generations of a vibrant and eclectic community. For years it has been the focal point of a community lighting event called, PRISM: Winter Lights. Following a challenging 2021, however, this projection display received a boost to inspire and instill a greater sense of cheer into its attendees.
To accomplish this, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID)’s Art & Entertainment District teamed up with Digital Projection and Display Devices to create a public display unlike anything the city has seen before.
Expanding the Scope
For this year, the event chose to focus on the relaxing and invigorating theme of water, with light-based landmark sculpture on full display. A focal of point of the display was the famous International Peace Fountain; a long, curved, flowing waterfall at the northern end of the park. Curated by the team of public art designers at Dashboard, this particular display had the unique challenge of literally blending light with water.
“When we designed PRISM, we created beacons of light that would make people want to immediately stop and come inside the park for a closer look. We wanted to create that same effect on this magnificent fountain,” says Executive Director and Co-founder of Dashboard, Beth Malone.
To achieve this, Dashboard brought in New Media and Video Artist Kris Pilcher, who was immediately taken with the project.
“I’ve had my eye on the fountain for a long time and was entranced with the prospect of using the waterfall as a medium,” says Pilcher. “This piece blends photons and H₂0 molecules – two vital components for life. With the way 2020 has been, anything that is a celebration of life is important.” For his content, Pilcher chose works from local artists, animating the static art pieces and designed transitions to make them dynamic for this unique display.
To Make Water a Canvas
The curators needed a powerfully bright display solution in order to continually display Pilcher’s artwork on the fountain in the frigid outdoors for the 2-month duration the program would be active.
Working together with Digital Projection, Display Devices constructed a projection tower complete with its own HVAC and processing hardware systems, and powered by a fleet of (8) high-performance M-Vision 21000 laser projectors.
Producing a total of 168,000 lumens and flanked with architectural lighting to frame the color-rich projector spectrum, the 12.5ft tall by 72ft wide display is breathtaking. The open and curved design of the space, along with colorful content on moving water is immersive and mesmerizing to the viewer.
“After speaking with the city and the artists, we knew this location held a lot of significance for downtown, and that this display needed to be something that would make people excited to get outside in the neighborhood,” says David Schmitt, director of sales and business development, at Display Devices. “So, we set out to make it as bright and colorful as possible. The M-Vision 21000’s balance of power and image quality made it a great fit for this project.”
A Community Illuminated
When the display was unveiled on opening night, visitors were captivated by the extraordinary conjunction of water and light, and in the proceeding days, people continued to stop by on their way through the scenery to admire the beautiful waters.
“We’re incredibly happy with how the piece resonates with people. It’s a safe way for the community to enjoy the work of local artists,” says Fredalyn M. Frasier, Planning and Urban Design Project Manager with the ADID.
“Woodruff park is one of my favorite places to be and it’s always been my dream to get people excited about seeing artwork in the places they call home. The waterfall display certainly does that and then some,” says Malone.
The program also celebrated the New Year holiday with a collection of new content centered around a message of hope.
“It’s been a monumental success – and a perfect exhibit for the current atmosphere. It brings people to the park, where they can enjoy the outdoors and their city, all while keeping socially distant. There have even been a few music videos shot in front of the display,” Pilcher says.
Another version of this article previously appeared in My Tech Decisions.