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The Matrix in your house

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  December 12, 2012 05:41 PM

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[Image courtesy Marshmallow Laser Feast]

It is a tenet of science fiction that one day we (or some nefarious interest) will be able to simulate our own realities, a la the holodeck in Star Trek, or the ersatz world of The Matrix. Those schemes may seem far-fetched, but we may be creeping closer.

One technique well underway is “projection mapping,” a technology that uses software and projectors to plot and display images onto three-dimensional objects. When it works, it’s breathtaking: a room, or a building, convincingly transforms into something else completely. Marketers have been among the most enthusiastic adoptees. Projection mapping has been used recently to introduce the 2013 Nissan Altima and the latest Nokia.

But for a glimpse of where this technology is headed, watch this jaw-dropping short created to promote the Playstation video store: A guy on his couch transforms into a rocket ship and blasts through space, all, apparently, in a single take with no post-production.

Among artists, there’s hipster whimsy in a new music video from the Belgian band Willow, where the lead singer strolls as his environment changes from a train to a sailboat to the ocean floor; and even after watching “Ilumina” a dozen times, you still won’t believe it was all just a 2-D drawing.

That said, perhaps no use of projection mapping beats the arresting “The Alchemy of Light,” in which the acrobatic British performance artist A Dandypunk dances among projected props and animations.

(H/T The Creators Project)

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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