Interactive Projection Designer
To call one of Holger Förterer creations a “projection” doesn’t come close to describing the magic he conjures with light.
In Förterer’s world, KÀ dancers and acrobats do not simply perform on a stage that’s illuminated by a light show, they actually direct what happens to the projection through their movements—the scenery reacts to everything they do. The result is a smooth succession of hypnotic, realistic illusions that play out in real time as the performers interact with the unseen technology that makes it all happen.
So how does it all happen? First, the performers are captured by an infrared-sensitive camera above the stage and their movements are tracked by a computer with software written by Förterer and three programmers. The second component is a system that in effect turns the stage into an oversized touch-screen that can determine the precise position of each actor, dancer and acrobat.
Without the performers to provide this input, nothing would happen. The information gathered from them influences the mathematical parameters of any number of worlds that are then reprojected onto the stage they occupy. “In essence, what we have is an intelligent set,” says Förterer. “And everything the audience sees is created by the computer.”
But as advanced as all this technology is, Holger Förterer does not see himself exclusively or primarily as a technician. “I am midway between art and technology,” he says. “All of my efforts seek to use technology to the point where it becomes art. At the same time, I struggle against technology taking me to the point where it takes over, at the expense of art. Ideas are the most important thing in our work. Man understands ideas, machines don't. However, if art cannot bring machines to feel emotions, who or what can? I am going to try.”