In 1955, Canadian uranium magnate Joseph Hirshorn commissioned Philip Johnson to design a plan for an entire town in Ontario, Canada. The project was never realized. Public Spirit, an animated tour of this Utopian town, debuted at the prestigious Directions exhibit in the Hirishhorn Museum on November 7th, 2008.
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Joseph Hirshhorn is best known as the man whose collection fills the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. But few people know about Hirshhorn's ambitious 1955 plan to build a Hirshhorn Museum in the wilderness of Canada as the centerpiece of a Utopian "town of culture"
The town of Hirshhorn, Ontario was designed by Philip Johnson according to a progressive modernist program. Special attention was paid to aesthetics; Hirshhorn requested "the most beautiful small town in the world." Public Spirit communicates the excitement and optimism of the town project with an emotionally uplifting mix of animation and music. Public Spirit is a wall sized animation, part of a larger installation piece with research about the town of Hirshhorn, and a scale model of the office tower. This project was commissioned by the Hirshhorn Museum. All design and animation was done by Sticky Pictures.
Archinect: Describe your collaboration with Terence Gower on Public Spirit.
Sticky Pictures: Terence is a video artist and architectural afficianado. He discovered the plans for the Hirshhorn by Philip Johnson and needed a creative and production team to partner with in order to realize his goal of creating this Utopian town to exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in DC. Our role was to find a visual direction for the project including an editorial flow, town layout, environmental elements and all production aspects.
What resources did you have to recreate the town of Hirshhorn? Alexandra Kiss was contracted separately by Terence to do the bulk of the modeling for the buildings. Many photographic references were supplied by Terence. Many of the textural elements were created from original photographic elements taken by us specifically for this project. Some of these textures were very period specific such as "aggregated concrete" and more challenging to find samples of. Other than that it was up to the team here at Sticky Pictures to realize Hirshhorn.
What were some of the most challenging parts of this project? The biggest challenge of this project turned out to be the environmental aspects. Man made objects such as buildings are relatively simple compared to nature. There's probably more complexity in one tree than the entire town. When you start building an entire forest....well you get the idea. Architectural rendering often use 2-D cut outs of trees to solve this problem. However because of the elaborate 360 camera movements in some of the shots we needed to use 3-D trees in order for them to not look like cut-outs. Other than that the duration of the finished piece and the need to render in HD meant that rendering was a huge time-factor in the project. Artistically, coming up with a color palette that was both subdued, and period specific was also challenging.
What tools (hardware/software) did you use? Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator
Directions-Terence Gower, Public Spirit is on display from November 5, 2008 to March 22, 2009 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Public Spirit: Philip Johnson's Lost Town