Obscura Digital, a local company that specializes in everything from mapping video onto surfaces to building multi-touch displays, brought Mint Plaza to life last week with a stunning display of video projection. The public space was transformed by animations that actually reacted to the plaza’s architecture. Although the project was only a temporary installation privately funded by McAfee, designers CMG Landscape Architecture, originally intended Mint Plaza to act as a venue for projection art, as shown in this original conceptual rendering of Mint Plaza:

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We spoke to CMG principal Willett Moss, who thought the Obscura installation was “an awesome occupation of public space,” and mentions that early on in the development of the plaza he spoke with renowned artist Jenny Holzer about doing an installation in the plaza. “We just wanted to make a hyper-flexible environment that could accommodate all the changing adjacencies and varied events over time.”

This is why Mint Plaza works so well. It’s still just an alley to cut through on your way to work, but it’s also a place to get coffee or dinner or cocktails. It’s become an outdoor venue – a literal and figurative stage for events big and small. And now an art gallery. Public spaces animate a city better than any digital projection. Mint Plaza exemplifies this idea, so let’s hope the city looks toward it as model as they begin to reclaim public spaces throughout San Francisco.

Rendering courtesy Willett Moss

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