The canvas was once but a blank space, invisible, a standard pre-amble to any image. From the humble sketch book to the glowing cinema screen, white space meant little more than a means to an end, a space to fill, a place to beam onto. Then street art opened up the door. City streets became a playground, buildings billboards; pipes, CCTV cameras, shop window shutters all features to play with.
Graffiti art understood how to take over seemingly random architectural features, exaggerate perspectives. It understood urban context, its audience. Take King Robbo’s most famous work, a fuck off piece walled on a canal beneath the British Transport Police’s headquarters. Facade mapping takes it the next level.
Video Painting their way into Vimeo Award ‘s 2012 awards SWEATSHOPPE take over surfaces from Berlin to Bristol, revealing moving collages as their masked figure swipes across everything from the back end of an industrial warehouse to the base of a statue next to St Paul’s cathedral. In fact it’s a step back, with little consideration for the message or the medium. SWEATSHOPPE’s might be doing something cool, in a cool place but it’s little more than a gimmick. Their projections are flat. They don’t consider architectural details, create virtual depth within the buildings or begin to imagine what could be happening beyond the wall.
Yekpare by Nerdworking considers all these elements. It maps their projection onto the Turkish Haydarpaşa Train Station not only because of its huge dimensions as a superstructure within the city but because of its architectural legacy as Istanbul’s hub between East and West. It tells the story of Istanbul from the ancient Ottoman Empire to the present day, selecting architectural elements to bring to the fore; projecting brilliant Byzantine stained glass windows at one point and silhouetted revellers pumping fists to dance music in another.
Nerdworking clearly understand their medium and their urban context, even taking time to consider the significance of where their audience might see the work. What we see are projections beautifully mapped and thought out, not only turning Haydarpaşa Train Station into a visual display board but visually turning Haydarpaşa into itself, and its own history. Its art that requires specific technical know-how of 3D modelling, architectural knowledge that’ll add certain richness to the narrative and formal elements. It even has its own set of basic problems such as balancing darker bricks with harsher whites or pixel mapping. Most facade mapping projects drain resources and people. Almost all give in to corporate clients to fund their dream. Thankfully, Nerdworking didn’t and the result is, well, spectacular.**