Optical Animal is a Brooklyn based digital arts collective, directing and producing works of new media, cinema, video art, and audio. Their series Projection Napping is an ongoing site-specific video installation project that started in 2016. A play on the term “projection mapping” (the process of projecting and aligning content onto an irregular surface), the series features footage of sleeping people, projected at massive scale and seemingly nestled neatly into the architecture of urban buildings. Past exhibits have occurred in New York City, Berlin, and Rome.
In Times Square, a new, site-specific iteration of Projection Napping (2020) offers a brief respite in the city that never sleeps. Optical Animal has created a special multi-channel version for the particular dimensions of each of the digital displays that participate in the Midnight Moment program. Against the busy background of the city, a diverse cast of New Yorkers snooze soundly or struggle to find comfortable positions, their bodies curled into the corners of the video frame as if they live within the confines of the screen. These intimate portraits appear larger than life on the electronic billboards, juxtaposing private experiences with public exhibition, and suggesting hidden moments within the buildings behind the screens.
“The concept for Projection Napping grew out of a desire to locate a more human, and more interpersonal realm for the medium of projection mapping. Jumping off of a play on words, the project dives into an exploration of sleep, the need for rest, and the line we draw between private and public space. We invite the audience to contemplate sleep as a universal, basic need shared by all living creatures, and to celebrate the pure joy that is taking a nap.”
Projection Napping is presented in partnership with Design Pavilion, which has invited Optical Animal to produce an installation version of Projection Napping to be viewed at street level on the pedestrian plazas of Times Square from May 12-20th during the Design Pavilion event.
"Design Pavilion is pleased to honor and acknowledge Midnight Moment's daily magic transforming Times Square into a massive canvas of engaging art and animation. We join in the delight, and are thrilled to be supporting the explorations of Optical Animal with an installation that brings Optical Animal's vision closer to Times Square visitors.
—Ilene Shaw, founding producer, Design Pavilion
Optical Animal is a Brooklyn based digital arts collective founded by creative duo JR Skola and Max Nova. Since 2008, they have found a home in creating unique experiences that employ new ideas and technology, while remaining firmly rooted in the ancient human love for storytelling. Optical Animal has presented video and projection art at events and festivals around the world including Mutek IMG in Montreal, Art Basel in Miami, Adelaide Festival in Australia, NXNW in Toronto, and the Westbeth Gallery in New York City. Work by Optical Animal has been commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, the New World Symphony, Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Calvin Klein, Christian Louboutin, and the New York Times, among others.
Named after a vision his father had in a sweat lodge, Max Coyote Nova has been telling stories since childhood. In addition to creating both narrative and abstract video artwork, Nova composes and performs classical piano music and dabbles in quantum physics as a hobby. Nova is also professor of “Live Video Performance Art” at New York University.
JR Skola grew up in the grassy suburbs of New Jersey, fascinated by history, ephemera, and the great outdoors. A move to New York in the early aughts, and a career in graphic, sound, and video design, led him to the world of storytelling, video art, and the subsequent co-founding of Optical Animal. These days he is occupied by the exploration of analog materials and processes, their relation to a spirit of simplification, and their relevance in the evolution of AI.
Design Pavilion™ invites public engagement with design and innovation, in conjunction with NYCxDESIGN, the City’s official design festival. Design Pavilion hosts a series of installations that are free and open to the public, featuring emerging and established designers, architects, brands and visionaries from around the world.