Case Study: Bunker de Lumières, Korea

Bunker main image
Artwork projection mapped on the walls at Bunker de Lumières, Korea

Hurrairah bin Sohail discovers how the work of Viennese artists was brought to the digital realm and showcased in an underground bunker on the island of Jeju, Korea.

Art might be universal, but artwork itself is constrained by ph If you want to see the Mona Lis ysical limitations. a in its full glory you have to visit the Louvre in Paris, France. Is there a way to flip this scenario and bring art to the masses?

Culturespaces specialises in delivering engaging experiences and management for monuments, museums, exhibitions and art centres. It contemplated whether the experience of art could be digitised and hence be made available to a wider audience.

Augustin De Cointet, who is the multimedia project director at Culturespaces, comments: “Approximately six years ago, we started to develop a digital exhibition in order to increase the number of visitors to museums we managed and to promote the mass appreciation of art. We wanted to make the art more accessible and available to people who wanted to experience it.”

Culturespaces has been putting its work into application. In partnership with TMONET, a Korean company specialising in new technologies for the general public, Bunker de Lumières was established on the island of Jeju, Korea. Housed in an underground design delivered the same results. Of course, each new space is totally different. It is impossible to copy the technical setups over to the new venue unless the new venue is exactly the same in terms of dimensions and that is never the case.”

Lawrence Ryan was brought on board by Pixel n’ Pepper to manage the project on the ground in Jeju, Korea. Live-Lab, a local Korean integrator, was tasked with the responsibility to deploy and commission Pixel n’ Pepper’s technical designs for the AV systems.

Ryan explains his involvement with the project: “I’ve worked with Pixel n’ Pepper for about 10 years across many projects. I was brought on as a technical director on site to manage the project and work with Live-Lab, the Korean integrator, who were appointed to deploy and integrate the AV systems in Jeju for Bunker de Lumières. I managed the project on site to make sure that the vision of Culturespaces and the work of Pixel n’ Pepper could be fully implemented.”

Alvin Chu, CEO of Live-Lab, says: “This was the first time we were working with Pixel n’ Pepper. But we have worked in the entertainment and live events sectors in Korea for years and that is where our expertise lies. This project was right up our alley as we previously have experience with media servers and our job was straightforward as we just had to follow the design and the technical specifications set out for us.”

The final purpose of the AV systems was clear from the start as De Cointet says: “Immersion is something that was important for us. We wanted the visitors to really take in the art. So, we focused a lot of energy on making sure the visuals and the projection was great. We tried to be extremely particular about the colours people would see and the emotions the painting was trying to evoke. Getting an emotional response was essential, because that is the core function of art and to do this, we needed immersion. The function of the audio and the video was to make sure that the visitors could focus on the art.”

The main AV component of the Bunker de Lumières is the visual system. Ryan talks about the approach taken: “The heart of the project is the show control system. We needed powerful software and quality media servers to make sure that the Bunker de Lumières could come to life.

“Culturespaces has previously established similar digital exhibitions in France. So, they have had real-world experience with different media servers over the years. They know the importance of a good media server and decided to upgrade to the Modulo Kinetic by Modulo Pi at one of their digital exhibitions in Paris. The experience with the product, the quality and the process of producing the content convinced them to use it for Bunker de Lumières as well.”

A total of 24 Modulo Kinetic VNode media servers and two Modulo Kinetic designer units are used at Bunker de Lumières.

Picquet sheds further light on the critical selection of the media server system: “The Modulo Pi Kinetic has the abilities to do it all. It is timeline based and offers possibilities of work integration and calibration. It is also very good in terms of staging and reproducing colours, both of which were necessary for this digital art exhibition. In my opinion, it is the most advanced tool that exists on the market at present. But when you use it, it is important to have people on board that know how to use it properly. Pixel n’ Pepper has the skills and expertise. Advanced knowledge is required to make sure that everything worked together.

“The Modulo Kinetic also handles show control. Not only does it play the audio in addition to the video, but it is also linked with the building. For example, we can get information from the fire alarm system and in the case of an emergency it can perform tasks for the fire alarm scenario.”

Ryan provides further details: “The master designer is where it all begins. We programmed the interface, created the timeline and put all the video content in place. You can view the previews in 3D and you can plan how everything will work in real time.”

The VNodes are linked to four Opticis OMM-2500 video matrix switchers. The switchers were chosen due to their ability to provide direct fibre output.

Ryan says: “A large portion of the projectors are running in real time. So the infrastructure used for video transmission had to be able to handle that.”

Chu says: “Opticis is a Korean manufacturer and we are quite familiar with its products. Using its matrix switchers and cabling made sense and we were able to proceed with the installation without any difficulties.”

Epson EB-L1105U projectors serve as the end-points for the video system. The choice of projectors and lenses was crucial in overcoming a critical challenge faced. Ryan says: “Originally, we were planning to use Barco projectors. But due to the specific nature of the bunker, with its low ceiling which only measures 5.5m high and the pillars that are present, we needed a specific angle of projection and a very specific aspect ratio. Epson projectors, at the time of the project, were the only ones that could meet our requirements for projection.”

Choices also had to be made with regards to the final aesthetic that was to be presented for the people visiting Bunker de Lumières. Ryan says: “The bunker has a very unique atmosphere and we had a decision to make. Do we leave the walls as they were or treat them to improve the surface for projection? In the end we decided to leave the walls as they were and maintain the exposed concrete look of the bunker. The walls were smooth enough to offer no problems for projection.”

Audio has also been given considerable consideration. De Cointet says: “When creating these exhibitions and the shows, we pay real attention to the audio. The first consideration is the quality of the sound. The second is to spatialise it and to have the sound move with the images.”

He continues: “If you climb a mountain, the main impact that you sense is made by the scenery. But sometimes the wind will blow and create a murmur and you will hear it and then it dies away. This gives a new dimension to your experience that might not be instantly recognisable but it is still an important part. We wanted to have the same thing for Bunker de Lumières. We wanted the visitor experience to be something that you discover, something that is always new and something that becomes more complete as time goes by and you think about it.”

Sound is provided by 58 Nexo iD24i speakers powered by six Nexo NXAMP 4x4 amplifiers. To conclude, Picquet says: “The overall experience of working on the project was very good. We found extremely professional people to partner with in the shape of Live-Lab. The project started on time and was completed on time and the results are exactly what we expected. It was a team effort, and everyone was involved, and everyone played their part to perfection.”