Since 2015, when Karlsruhe, Germany celebrated its 300th anniversary with an incredibly successful projection spectacle from Hungary-based Maxin10sity on the facade of Karlsruhe Centre for Art and Media (ZKM), the projection mapping specialist has returned every year with a new and even more stunning show. At the end of 2018, Maxin10sity delivered I’MMORTAL (Immortal / I am mortal), where projection mapping meets the acrobatic arts in a journey across time and space.
“This was our fourth year devising the Karlsruhe Schlosslichtspiele show, and we wanted to stretch ourselves, by testing a new creative direction where we would introduce characters but stay true to our projection mapping roots," says Maxin10sity co-founder and creative director, András Sass, who took the lead on the project. "By using acrobats for the first time in the context of a projection mapping production, we wanted to create an entirely different spectacle whereby the acrobats’ choreography and the animation unfold together to tell a story.”
During a six-week duration, over 350,000 visitors watched almost 80 performances of the new spectacle. “Our previous shows in Karlsruhe (300 Fragments in 2015, Legacy in 2016 and Structures of Life in 2017) all had a strong point of reference back to the city, but this year, we chose to open it up a bit more and take on a more philosophical theme. We started to explore what it might mean to live forever and what there might be after death. The topic was of great interest to me, and inspired by my love of Anne Rice’s books which for those who know them, touch on themes around eternal life,” recalls Sass on how the story for I’MMORTAL emerged. The resulting story follows Asheem, who searches for the meaning of immortality when a tragic accident gives him the opportunity to experience the grace of infinite time.
Once the concept and storyline were written, Maxin10sity then turned to previous collaborators Flaviu Ciocan and Márton Horváth, lead composers at Big Total Audio, who created the original musical score to which the visuals were set. Of the duo, Sass says: “We have developed a common language having worked together now for many years, and they intrinsically understand what feelings we want to summon with the music."
With the music set, Maxin10sity worked with the acrobats of Recirquel Company from Budapest, Hungary to finalize the choreography. The acrobats were filmed in a two-day shoot, using green box technology to put the characters into the digital environment. Rather than costumes, the acrobats were painted using a body painting technique, in order to fully display the movements of their bodies to help tell the story. These recordings were combined with the 3D animations produced in Maxin10sity’s studio to create the final visuals. The show itself was delivered via 16 Panasonic 20K laser phosphor projectors and a Pandoras Box system.
One particular weekend, all of Maxin10sity’s Karlsruhe performances, including 300 Fragments, Legacy, and Structures of Life were re-run alongside I’MMORTAL including a team Q&A discussion with the audience.
ZKM’s Nina Wlodarczyk, project manager for Schlosslichtspiele, comments, “Maxin10sity’s shows have become a much-loved and anticipated spectator favourite at Karlsruhe. With ownership over the curation of the event, we look to Maxin10sity to help us code the show in a post-modern way so that there is something in it for everyone. Each year they go above and beyond to address and overcome the challenges, reaching new heights of visual artistry.”
“It’s a creatives’ dream to work on a project like Karlsruhe every year," Sass concludes, "where we have the freedom to push the boundaries and challenge storytelling norms."