Unstable Creations: The Skinny Showcase

Feature by The Skinny | 16 May 2017

Unstable Creations is the alias for designer and digital artist Martin Sweeny. Over the last few years, Martin has been developing his take on projection mapping, an emerging technology which takes moving images and projects them onto complex three-dimensional surfaces.

Martin initially started using projection mapping as a technique to make his club night Paradigm more visual. Paradigm started out in September 2014 and quickly developed into a full-scale monthly event taking over the floors at Edinburgh's Mash House featuring electronic music artists, DJs, visual artists, interior decorators and interactive designers. At the same time as running Paradigm, Martin was in his final years of his degree in Design and Digital Art at Edinburgh Napier University. This gave him an opportunity to shape new ideas, concepts and theories through creating prototypes and live testing them at the events.

Post-graduation he was offered further opportunities for live events and started to build his unique brand of projection mapping: a playful use of colourful tones, flat geometric shapes and patterns more in step with contemporary graphic design than 3D video mapping. Rather than try to emulate what the big production companies are doing with complex visual effects and 3D rendering, he decided to go in the opposite direction and explore what can be done with flat design on three-dimensional objects. He doesn't use any animation – all the movement in the visual content is created through video synthesis which is affected by incoming audio. These installations have now been to many events, including club nights and festivals all over Scotland, Creative Edinburgh events, Edinburgh's Charity Fashion Show and Edinburgh's International Science Festival, to name but a few.

In September last year, Unstable Creations collaborated with Werewolf, an Edinburgh-based animation studio, to enter the International Projection Mapping Competition Circle of Light in Moscow. They decided to keep to their style, projecting flat design using sound-reactive visual content and tightly synchronised animations onto the All-Russian Exhibition Center (ВДНХ) in the VDNKh. This was an unorthodox (and stressful) choice as all of their competitors would be using hi-definition 3D rendering and spectacular visual effect tricks to wow the judges.

The team's initial doubts quickly faded when they were announced as the winners. Patrick Woodroffe, lighting designer for London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, awarded them with the words: "For their technical ability and the sheer joy they brought to the event."  You can view Unstable Creations' entry in the player above.

In the future, Martin Sweeny and Unstable Creations have ambitions to create large scale architectural projection experiences for brands, exhibitions and festivals. They also have their sights set on creating immersive experiences for music festivals and hope to work with their favourite Electronic Music artists to create installations for live shows and events.