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When Buildings Come Alive: 10 Unreal Urban Projection Mapping Videos

A new form of urban art is popping up in cities throughout the world.  Urban Projection Mapping, as it is loosely known, is the art of creating video displays that make buildings come alive in light, color and motion.  Armed with powerful technology, a handful of enterprising video artists create vivid, visually arresting video displays that are projected on urban architecture.  These videos tell stories, form abstract imagery and in some cases, sell products.  To celebrate this new form of urban art, here are 10 of the best urban projection mapping videos by some of the world’s best artists.

Reader take note, that in contrast to many of the other features here on TheCoolist, the videos below combine for over an hour of footage.  You may want to watch a few, save the link and return to enjoy the rest at your leisure.  Each video below is absolutely worth your time, a solid representation of an extraordinary movement in urban art.

Kraft Work by Seeper

The interactive arts and technology collective known as Seeper is amongst the best of the world’s urban projection mapping artists.  Earlier this year, Seeper unveiled an urban projection on the famed Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, also the home to the auto giant’s headquarters.  Not long after dusk set in, the Volkswagen factory came alive in the vision of Seeper, to a display rich in color, character and creativity.

Joy Is BMW Ad by NuFormer

Advertisers have become well aware of the urban projection mapping trend, having hired video artists to present their wares to the world. In May of 2010, the NuFormer projection team displayed an advertisement for BMW that was shown in Sun Tec City, Singapore.  The video was projected across two buildings in an open square, displayed for the public and BMW executives alike.

555 Kubik by UrbanScreen

What if buildings could dream?  The urban projection greats at UrbanScreen asked this question themselves when creating their 555 Kubik display as shown in Hamburg, Germany.  The building is manipulated by a pair of hands that sink into its structure and rearrange its facade in a stunning, grid-style fashion.  The display was awarded a Silver Lion at the Cannes Advertising Festival in 2009.

Aeroport Mapping by Macula

The projection artist Macula created this stunning display on the facade of the Aeroport nightclub during the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.  Karlovy Vary, known as Carlsbad in English, is a Czech town of 50,000 that has become a hot spot for arts and culture, famous for its hot spring-fed baths.  The architecture of Karlovy Vary lends itself perfectly to the visual whims of Macula in this video.

Yekpare Instanbul Urban Projection Project

A team of visual artists created a 15-minute urban projection called “Yekpare“, a piece of storytelling about the 8,500 year history of the city of Istanbul.  The video is displayed on one of Istanbul’s landmarks, the Haydarpaşa Train Station.  This slow-moving, vivid story is lush with symbolism, telling a story of the city as its culture changed hands from pre-history to the Turkish centerpiece of Istanbul, today.

Why Cinema Now by UrbanScreen

UrbanScreen returns to our list of urban projection videos, this time providing the entrance facade for the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival.  In 2009, Greece’s top film festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with this long-running video across the face of the Olympian Theater in Thessaloniki.

Happy New Year Projection by Anema

Thus far, urban projection mapping hasn’t made an impression on architecture in the US on this list.  Here, Sugarland, Texas celebrated New Year’s Eve 2010 with a projection by Anema.  While the music leaves a bit to be desired, the video certainly does not.  Enjoy the cameos from Tetris and Tron, both of which helped the countdown to the new year in Sugarland.

Samsung in Amsterdam by NuFormer

To show off their brand in Amsterdam, Samsung hired NuFormer to create an urban projection video on the Beurs van Berlage building in the heart of the city.  The building is torn apart by NuFormer in this video, with wildlife growing within until the visuals ultimately yield to a Samsung television.  Despite being an advertisement, the creative value of this NuFormer video is instantly recognizable.

Artificial.Dummies by TODO

One of the earlier examples of urban projection video is the Artificial.Dummies installation by TODO.  Unlike planned, linear video, the creatures inhabiting the architecture here are actually driven by behavioral algorithms.  The Artificial.Dummies project is an exhibition of both urban projection and artificial intelligence, where cartoon-style creatures are the star of the show.

Battle of Branchage by Seeper

For the 2009 Branchage Film Festival, Seeper was invited to develop an urban projection video of their own.  The festival takes place on the English isle of Jersey, not far off the coast of Normandy, France.  Seeper set up the installation on a castle wall atop a hill not far from the festival site.  The result was amongst Seeper’s best, a brilliant show of light and movement for the festival attendees.

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What is your favorite urban projection video in this list?  Is there a project you’ve seen that you would have included here?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  We’re excited to see more from this growing art form around the world, as it could be one of the great art trends of this young century.  In the mean time, be sure to check out these other features from TheCoolist: