In May of 2012 I received a phone call from a stranger telling me he had seen my work in a Live Design article and wanted to discuss a project he had currently in the making, set to open in December 2013.
It turned out this "stranger" was Federico Stubbe Jr, President of PRISA Group, a firm that, for over three decades, has been focused on resort and residential development and is highly regarded for its enhancement of natural landscapes and the integration of art into communities.
Federico explained that his firm was developing their first multi-level parking structure for the new Hyatt Place Bayamón and El Tropical Casino, which was to be in a highly visible city environment, and he was seeking to "create something different; something that would also reflect the dynamism of the place as the city's most vibrant entertainment destination".
What struck me as extremely unique about Stubbe's approach was that, this person on the other side of the telephone, was seeking to convert a dull, overlooked, utilitarian, parking facility into a work of art.
He knew exactly what he wanted: "something innovative and very Puerto Rican"...created by a Puerto Rican artist. Federico presented to me the concept of a "Green Wall" wanting to have the building's structure integrate with its background- the prominent mountain of El Parque de Las Ciencias.
Under that direction, as well as the richness and beauty found in Puerto Rico's lush bio-diversity, this piece is born. I have designed a Puerto Rican landscape, one that lives during the day and transforms at night.
At night the whole building illuminates, reminiscent of the bioluminescent phenomenon found throughout the island. The full building structure becomes a canvas drenched in light. At the turn of every hour, the lights engage in a synchronized dance to the animation and its music...enhancing the structure to waltz the night away. A full-fledged architectural spectacle made possible by the digital scenography art form.
There was no better person to undertake this project than Manuel Torres from Audio Visual Consultants, technical director and equipment distributor extraordinaire.
To that, add into the mix the exceptional professionals from PRISA Group: Eng, Eduardo Cortés González - Head of Construction / Managing Partner, and Eng, Javier García - Senior Project Manager. In one month, under non-stop rain, in between the organized chaos of finalizing construction of the hotel and casino for opening day, Boscaje Iluminado was pulled off without a hitch.
Fifty six, 20 mm pitch, IP65, ABSEN LED panels were hauled up in cranes by Manuel's team, resulting in a 37 feet wide by 34 feet high screen. During the day, this screen serves as the building's dynamic signage and, in the evenings, it runs textured video loops and "the show" at on-the-hour-intervals by yours truly.
The approximately 30,000 pounds of led screen are held by a frame designed and fabricated by Eduardo and Javier. They constructed a sturdy steel cage, separated 2 feet from the face of the building, with three levels of cat walks for accessibility to the rear of the panels. Eduardo described it as a "flying screen".
This "flying" LED screen is flush to the "Green Wall" - a printed artwork 183 feet wide by 33 feet high, that wraps around the building's facade. Using only indigenous flora of Puerto Rico, I composed iconic symbols of Puerto Rican culture. This theme is carried over to the interior of the El Tropical Casino with four additional unique designs printed on large scale canvas.
So, Eduardo and Javier used an aluminum frame system from Germany to install the canvas mesh, attaching it at sectionals of the parking building's structure. The mesh was installed by brave men rappelling up and down, dealing with Bayamón's tempered weather conditions, where rain and wind can be, and were at that time constant, persistent, and aggressive.
We mustn't forget that the building, even though it has been turned into a permanent architectural digital scenography sculpture, is at its core, a parking structure. So, it has wide openings and bright lights that proved to be a visual detriment to the printed artwork at night. These lights were attenuated with custom made barn doors as well as an added layer of perforated metal serving two purposes: as petticoat and protection from possible vandalism. Twenty three Iluminarc's Ilumipanels 40IP completed the solution, shining bright onto the perforated canvas.
Up top, on the bottom lip of the canvas aluminum frame, sixteen Ilumipanels are spread at 10 feet intervals, stretched out on steel arms. Seven are on the ground, securely fastened, focused dead center onto individual decorative murals.
The "architainment" (using LD's proper terms) is completed with two Technomad Speakers and two Sound Spheres placed covertly, just below the roof structure where the entrance to the El Tropical Casino and Applebee's are.
The full piece has its own personal, secure, humidity controlled, control room where the server runs the piece everyday and every night, 24/7. Manuel prepared a DELL XPS 27" Touch computer running Windows 8 to be the central nervous system of the operation. We are running everything through it- promotion, video, music, controlling the lights assisted with a Chauvet Xpress 512 Plus DMX controller, scheduling, scheduled brightness of screen ...All of it.
This piece resides in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I live in Los Angeles, California. So, to be able to update the building's ever changing looks, shows, new music, new videos, etc...the computer is hooked up to a T1 internet connection which allows me to control the system remotely with ease. It's awesome!
Using this connection I upload the new show animations, animation loops, and new lighting programming. I make all the animation myself, from scratch. There were some photographs I took with my canon 6D to incorporate as texture in my 3D Models, using Photoshop and Illustrator to edit them. I also drew other textures with pencil, markers, and others to scan them in and incorporate into the digital work.
My usual approach to content creation is blending 3D modeling (Maya and RealfFlow) where I model, texture, light, and animate everything from scratch and then composite, finish, and edit – yes, edit- in After Effects.
And now, everything is in place, running smoothly. The inaugural show titled "Entraña" is entertaining audience members every night, at the turn of every hour, for the next few months until the next one is ready, and so on and so forth.
It is always extremely rewarding to partake in a project equipped with such an exquisite team of professionals, a dream team, where there is no question that the driving force is passion.
Please, we invite you to stop by Bayamón, Puerto Rico... and enjoy the show!
by : ANAITTÉ
digital scenographer (artist, designer, content creator, producer, programming)
Commissioned by: PRISA Group
Federico Stubbe Jr. - President
Eng, Eduardo Cortés González - Head of Construction, Managing Partner
Eng, Javier García - Senior Project Manager
Audio Visual Consultants
Manuel Torres - Technical Director, Equipment Distributor