Getty: Sculpture in Motion, David Leonard and Ben Mandeburg
Sculpture in Motion is a cybernetic interactive installation, inspired by artist Pier Gabriele Vangelli’s bust of oil tycoon, philanthropist, and art collector, J. Paul Getty. Mr. Getty would have been 47 years old when Vangelli unveiled the marble sculpture in 1939. He poses at the entrance, looking towards the grounds, and over the millions of people who visit the world-class art center. But what if the bust could speak?
Everybody knows that you can’t “touch” at museums. In order to properly study an object, an artist must feel its curves and study its proportions. To create Sculpture in Motion without handling the actual bust, a cast of thousands of infrared dots was used to coat the surface of the marble. The light was sent back to a computer that turned the information into an image. Invisible to the naked eye, this light was then used to create a data point cloud, which was placed into three-dimensional modeling software to mold the figure. The data armature became the animated version of Mr. Getty used to create the installation.
Mr. Getty’s smooth marble bust was illuminated by a single video projector, connected to a computer and a camera sensor. Through the magic of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and software developed by the artist, the bust speaks to visitors and follows viewers with its eyes. The projection is visually integrated onto the marble surface with a lifelike digital reproduction of Mr. Getty’s face. It literally uses his voice, taken from one of few recorded interviews, to describe the collection he started. With infinite programming possibilities, Sculpture in Motion can become a vessel for museum educators to reach a new generation.