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  • Writer's pictureAleksander Kaczmarek

_The.West Window_

A site-specific audio visual installation created by Aleksander Kaczmarek at St Mary de Castro Church in Leicester.

The artistic purpose of _The.West Window_ was to emphasise the beauty of stained glass and juxtapose traditional art with digital art.

The installation concept started to shape in my head during the first visit to St Mary de Castro Church. I knew that I wanted to create a piece of projection art; however, I could not choose a place in the church to do it. Back at home, while I was viewing the photos I took, I found a photo below.

Reflections of the stained glass window on the floor and Norman arches in the background gave me an instant idea for _The.West Window_ installation.

The projection is created in Touch Designer software, a node-based visual programming language for real-time interactive multimedia content. The visuals are created using a coding language that inspired me to put punctuation marks in the title.

The installation depicts virtual stained glass windows. Visuals are based on visual monochromatic noise that creates random points, which makes it evolve. I took the colour cue of the projection from the stained glass window above, and shapes were taken from the floor's reflections.

The composition is based on a musical form and compositional technique called Canon, based on the principle of strict imitation, in which an initial melody is imitated at a specified time interval by one or more parts, either at the unison (i.e., the same pitch) or some other pitch. The piece consists of two parts; repetitive, long canon motive that symbolises the waiting for salvation in Christian culture and a short, more beautiful movement that represents salvation. Both parts of the piece evolve in time by changing the instrumentation and parameters.

The full composition is available at:

The piece was played by a pair of studio monitors placed on the floor and angled upwards. This setup provided an extra reflection of the sound, which made great use of the acoustic of the place and changed the piece's timbral characteristics.

The soundtrack was composed in Ableton Live 11, and the instruments used are from the Spitfire Audio eDNA engine and are processed with Output Portal.

The visuals were projected by two Optoma X304M Projectors and mapped in Kantan Mapper, a mapping tool provided in Touch Designer software.

My installation was also strongly inspired by the works of teamLab, especially ones in the teamLab Borderless museum that I visited during the DMU Global trip to Tokyo in March 2020. This experience inspired me to explore immersive arts and do the research of tools used for its creation. Of course _The.West Window_ presents a very simple and minimalistic approach to the topic of immersive arts compering to the Team Labs works; however, I would like to keep exploring the subject and further develop my skills in this field of arts.

_The.West Window_ was my first attempt of the projection mapping. I had to face many challenges, such as the placement of the projectors to provide a good experience for viewers standing in different places, not necessarily in front of the projection.

The cable management was also problematic, as I needed to have in mind the esthetic and health and safety regulations.

In my opinion, the most significant issue of this project was the quality of the image. As the projection was placed right below the big stained glass window, the brightness and colours depended on the weather. Also, the projection was generated in real-time, which was quite CPU heavy for my computer, so the animation was not always smooth because of dropped frames. Moreover, the projectors I used were not of the best quality and were not able to recreate the colours' details, primarily when the sun was pointing at the window above.

This project helped me explore a new field of art and improve my coding skills in the Touch Designer environment. While working on the code of _The.West Window_ I came across many components available in the software that gave me a few ideas for my future projects.

I believe that despite some issues, I managed to create an interesting piece of installation art.

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