The Gertrude Street 2011 Projection Festival

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The Gertrude Street 2011 Projection Festival


The Gertrude Association, a not-for-profit organisation determined to bring the local Fitzroy community together through art, runs the annual festival. Founded by Monique McNamara, the festival is in its fourth year and this year’s theme, Hidden: Places and Spaces, is a celebration of both the area’s history and diversity.

Festival Producer and Creative Director, Kym Ortenburg feels that the projection art medium is perfect for Gertrude Street. ”We thought this would be an accessible way for everyone to come together and enjoy art in our community. The whole of Gertrude Street is the gallery and it’s free, which means people are not intimidated about going into a gallery space and it means that anyone who just happens along the street encounters it.”

Projection art is a versatile art form with artists using a range of techniques including still images, animation and mapping techniques. Using mapping techniques for projection art is where the architectural features of the building are drawn into a computer program and are manipulated to create new effects. “There are many beautiful decorative features on the Victorian buildings of Gertrude Street. These are highlighted in different colours and patterns or animations can be applied. You can do 3D animation on it as well, so it seems like the building is morphing into something else,” says Kym.

Award winning artist, Yandell Walton will be returning this year after the success of her Night Walkers installation in 2009. “She used dark shadowy images a bit like when you’re a kid and you think the shadows are forming into monsters,” says Kym, “She used the existing shadow of a tree and morphed that into her own monster.

“Kids love it, everybody loves it because ordinary buildings just become this magical and often interactive art piece,” says Kym. “Last year we had a piece where you texted a word to a particular number, which was then connected to a computer and a projector and then it would call up all the images to do with that word. So if you texted the word ‘sunset’ then all the images of sunset would be projected over the building. So everyone who came to view the art essentially were deciding what the art would be.”

The festival is made up of three levels of art including general entry, site specific works and community group projects. The site specific works use the architecture of the buildings as well as other features on the street such as trees and lampposts and incorporate these as part of the canvas of their work. All the community groups participating in the festival are associated with or on Gertrude Street and have a real affinity with the location. The installation piece that will be projected onto Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, features artwork by residents. Rather than just bringing the artists to the community the festival is actually getting the community involved in the art.

A local herself, Kym says she doesn’t mind volunteering her spare time to the festival, “It’s my community and I love having the opportunity to make it prettier. I live just around the corner and I’m a very community minded person, I have family who grew up in Fitzroy and I think that part of the charm of the area is all the hidden layers of the history of Gertrude Street. My kids probably think I’m crazy but they seem to enjoy it and they bring their friends to see it.”

Kym feels that it is vital for the community to get involved in these kinds of events in order to keep the creative culture alive “I actually think that even though we are all very connected all the time with our technology and phones and computers, I think it’s really important for people to have a bit of physical contact and interaction. The great thing about Gertrude Street is that the community really does come together. There’s an old fashioned community feel about the place and I think that’s important.”

By Dzintra Boyd