USUALLY cold and dark in the middle of winter, Gertrude Street in Fitzroy has been transformed into a colourful, glowing spectacle for the Gertrude Street Projection Festival.
Artists are illuminating windows, laneway walls, footpaths, shop interiors, tree trunks and buildings for the fifth year running, effectively creating a free outdoor street gallery.
Software developer, 3D animator and multimedia installation artist Olaf Meyer has been involved in the festival since it started in 2008, and is projecting a skull with veins onto the facade of the Gertrude Hotel.
“The Gertrude Association was looking to execute a projection festival on Gertrude Street to brighten the street and make it look friendlier at night during winter,’’ Meyer says. “I was referred to them by word of mouth that I could do something like that for them.”
Meyer creates light movement through interactive software, and uses projected images to transform all sorts of surfaces. After starting his career in film in 1995, Meyer was attracted to an independent group of artists involved in the underground electronic music scene in Melbourne.
He moved from Sydney in 1997 and became inspired by Steve Middleton and Attilio Gangemi of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, a partnership producing digital images for installations at large dance parties.
“They hung sheets and screened through the ugly industrial space and turned it into a very soft and gentle place,’’ Meyer says. “I really liked that I was able to be transported through the moving images.”
Middleton was also a lecturer at RMIT, and encouraged Meyer to study his craft. He went on to complete eight years in electronic design and interactive media studies to earn a Master of Design in Multimedia.
For this year’s fest, Meyer has teamed up with animator and filmmaker Richard De Souza. “The work itself is responding to the theme of ‘elements’ and we are responding by using the architecture of the Gertrude Hotel and referencing imagined and natural elements,” Meyer says. “Together we are able to produce some strong visual work that is really robust.”
Meyer has plenty more in the pipeline, including producing a panoramic projection for a touring show with dancer Antony Hamilton next February. He says his inspiration comes from being able to respond externally to his internal state. “I design software that allows me to improvise,” he says. “That means when I am listening to music or producing work [for an] installation, I can respond quite quickly once I have the visual material.”
The Gertrude Street Projection Festival runs until July 29, from 6pm–midnight.