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Orlando International Airport’s wonder walls


Orlando International Airport is reimaging the passenger experience with a series of architecturally scaled immersive art installations dedicated to original and interactive content, writes Joe Bates.

Orlando International Airport’s Terminal C is not only one of the world’s newest terminals, it is also one of the most unique in terms of its real-time, interactive and immersive storytelling approach to the digital artwork installed across its facilities.

The bulk of the artwork has been specifically created for the new $2.7 billion terminal and explores the knowns and unknowns of greater Central Florida through a multimedia experience.

The artworks were commissioned as part of the new terminal’s experiential media environment (EME) project, which was a collaborative effort involving the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Gentilhomme Studio, Sardi Design, Burns Engineering, MRA International Group, Hahn International, SACO, Smart Monkeys, Electrosonic and others.

‘Fantastic Orlando’, ‘Hide and Seek’, ‘Highwaymen’, ‘Manatees’, ‘Red Planet’, ‘Space VAB’, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Water Fall’ are spread across two dedicated art areas known as the Moment Vault and Windows on Orlando.

Gentilhomme’s Orlando EME creative director, Thibaut Duverneix, says that ‘Red Planet’ celebrates “Florida’s legacy of space exploration by transporting travellers on an unexpected journey to Mars”.

He notes: “As they move through the Moment Vault, passengers transform into transparent entities that attract sand and dust as their bodies are detected through 3D motion tracking. Their silhouette on screen renders in real time.”

‘Fantastic Orlando’ features a capsule that invites passengers to step into Central Florida’s ecosystem without having to leave the airport. It is described as a colourful surrealist tableau that floats under and above water to highlight iconic architectural structures, nature, and historical sites across the three massive screens inside the Moment Vault.

According to Duverneix, ‘Hide and Seek’ uses state-of-the-art technology “to bring humans together in ways previously unimaginable”. He explains: “Hide and Seek whisks travellers into a mystical silhouette of fireflies that is controlled by their body movements, using real time multi-user 3D motion-tracking. The result is an enchanting experience that offers travellers unexpected moments of magic.”

‘Highwaymen’ is arguably the most traditional of the displays as it features three paintings that have been photographed in high resolution and then split in several layers to create animations in depth and movements, matching the horizon line to create continuity over the three screens that make up Windows on Orlando.

In reference to ‘Manatees’, Duverneix says: “Our team travelled to over twenty locations across Central Florida to capture live action content for a handful of the video capsules. This would be incomplete without visiting one of Florida’s most famous underwater creatures, the manatees, in Crystal River.

“Inside the Moment Vault, the gentle giants gracefully meander across the three curved screens as ribbons of light flicker through the waters and schools of fish glimmer by, creating an immersive and contemplative atmosphere. The capsule was filmed using an underwater 360 degree immersive approach.

Elsewhere, ‘Waterfall Wall’’ is designed in the style of traditional stonework fountains that blend in with its enclosing architecture; ‘Space VAB’ features a rocket launch from the nearby Kennedy Space Center; and ‘Sunrise’ is dedicated to Florida’s reknown beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Describing the power of public art media, Gentilhomme notes: “Public art media provides thought-provoking moments that transform one’s relationship with the spaces you navigate. Through interactivity, the project enables the passersby to connect not only with their physical environment, but to also explore the history and culture of the area that surrounds them.”

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