Fort Worth goes immersive

by Guy Frum

Fort Worth goes immersive to celebrate city’s history

Cities celebrate birthdays for their famous architecture every day, but when it came time to blow the roof off of Fort Worth, Texas, city leaders decided they needed an event as big as the Lone Star State itself. Such is the case with the Will Rogers Pioneer Tower , a 208-foot edifice that is part of a larger compound dedicated to Rogers, the American stage and film actor, who also made a living as a humorist, newspaper columnist, and cowboy on occasion. He starred in 71 films, wrote 4,000 newspaper columns, and is the focus of Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial center, which also includes a mural, a bust, and a life-size statue of him riding his horse Soap Suds from the film “Into the Sunset.”The tower turns 85 in 2021, and hasn’t been actively lit since it became a national landmark in 2016. But the Arts Council of Fort Worth has concocted a plan to celebrate the city’s history in a wholly remarkable way, using photographs submitted by local residents in a two-night spectacular that begins in early 2022. The community event is free and will only take place when the sun goes down. All four sides of the tower will be lit by citizen-submitted residents displayed together thanks to the work of digital artists Refik Anadol, a resident of Los Angeles, and the eponymous Quayola, who hails from Italy. The event is one of four scheduled to be part of the Fort Worth PUblic Art Collection celebration. 

Projection Mapping

The technology at work here is called projection mapping, artists creating large-scale videos that wrap around thes structure of the building and appear to be continuously moving and changing.It allows video to overlap just about any surface and big brands are using it all the time to engage customers and users on new levels by integrating ads with multimedia to create emotional responses and long-lasting impressions.It turns environments into immersive experiences that become part of many people’s shared experiences and part of the subconscious a lot easier. Initially this sort of technology was limited to flat walls, but as the tower in Fort Worth is showing, today it’s much more a case of pushing the limits to see what’s possible. 

Town on the Grow

The message in Fort Worth is to combine the people, places, and dreams for the city. Fort Worth was established way back in 1849 as an army outpost overlooking the strategically valuable Trinity River. At the time, Texas had only been a member of the United States for 4 years after spending the previous nine as its own country. Formerly dwarfed by close neighbor Dallas, it has one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, with its population more than doubling since 2000. The projection mapping experience will show just how fat the town has come in pictures and in its technological revolution, incorporating public art into architecture without compromising the integrity of the historic building and allowing residents and visitors an immersive, one-of-a-kind activity to experience.