• Laurel Contributor

Waterfall Ribbons

by Luke Osteen

A dazzling new technique and a bold artistic vision transformed Dry Falls into “Waterfall Ribbons,” a Technicolor work of art.

The late Highlands artist Julia Daugette once told me that she was never at a loss for inspiration when considering her next painting.

“What kind of artist could ever come up empty? This entire corner of Western North Carolina is one big canvas,” she said.

Julia tossed out this bit of wisdom 30 years ago, and last October the artists at Highland MediaWorks of Macon County put proof to concept with their dauntingly ambitious plan to use Dry Falls as the stage for their own 21st century art project.

Using a 3D mapping technique combined with their own artistic sensibilities, Highland MediaWorks owners Dawn and Dale McGiboney transformed a night-darkened Dry Falls into a technicolor kaleidoscope of shapes and patterns. The product of five months’ of negotiations for permission from the US Forest Service, “Waterfall Ribbons” marks the first time this new artform has been applied to a complex, endlessly dynamic feature like a waterfall.

Like most technically complex ideas, 3D projection mapping is built upon a simple premise – the same technique you witness when you take a seat at the movies.

For this most modern iteration, rather than project an image onto a flat screen, the artist/technician maps her entire scene in 3D and projects and masks the image back onto a physically complex “screen.” With 3D Mapping, coordinates need to be defined for where the object is placed in relation to the projector, and its XYZ orientation.

It’s a complex, painstaking process and the McGiboney’s needed to be precise in their measurements and their artistic choices.

That dedication to their craft paid off in spectacular form on that clear October evening, when Dry Falls performed a 21st century version of the Dance of the Seven Veils, adorned in vivid colors.

The photo on this page gives you an idea of just how spectacular this show was, but to fully appreciate the technique and the audacity of the artistic decisions, visit highlandmediaworks.com and click on the Waterfall Projection link.

And the McGiboney’s, who’ve attracted global attention with their pioneering work in the field, are planning to premiere other works on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, including a Gingerbread House upon a building in downtown Highlands.

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