Whether for scientific understanding or pure curiosity, humans spend a lot of time watching animals, but in the new projection mapping project, Animal Watching, the tables are turned, as gigantic animated animal heads watch over Mexico City's human passersby. Created by motion graphics studio Maizz Visual, the project is designed to express the notion that animals are also watching humans, and don't like what we're doing to animal habitats. Like Clement Briend's vivid tree projections of Cambodian gods, and Maizz Visual's own tree projections that took on genetically-modified corn, Animal Watching is a mesmerizing installation, not least because the subjects move in anthropomorphic ways. Among the animals seen in the projection are an elephant, iguana, an owl, and others.
Maizz Visual's Israel Villalobos tells Creators that the studio specializes in outdoor video installations and projection mapping, and they have been experimenting with projection video onto trees and vegetation since 2013. Animal Watching appeared for the first time at Parque España in Mexico City, as part of the arts program of the Marvin Festival, and the busy street corner where Maizz Visual placed the projector attracted thousands of people during the event's nighttime hours.
The concept for Animal Watching grew out of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) article claiming that, in the past 42 years, half of the wild animals on Earth have disappeared due to serious deterioration of habitat. So, Maizz Visual decided to experiment with animal images, and through a video installation, make them more visible by projecting them onto trees, a key element in their habitats.
"By using various 3D animation and post-production software we animated the heads of the animals chosen for each set," explains Villalobos, noting that he and Maizz Visual compatriot José Morente searched Creative Commons for hundreds of images to animate. They also looked for textures and shadows that they knew would work well once the video was projected on leaves.
"We gave the animals some human looks: animals that move, blink, talk, and stare at the audience and people passing by," says Villalobos. "The public loved the video intervention on trees, and looks amazed for few minutes at the trees with the giant shining animal heads."
Villalobos says that he and Morente plan to keep building upon the Animal Watching project. To that end, they intend to take it outside of Mexico to various international festivals throughout 2017 and 2018, and, depending on the country, they hope to integrate new animals into the animated projections.
Click here to see more of Maizz Visual's work.