Fall 2013
Liam Young, Studio

Lidar is a high-resolution laser technology increasingly used to map our world in millimeter detail. Mobilized by preservationists, developers, environmental agencies, power companies, and surveyors, lidar has become a pervasive tool of documentation and surveillance. 

This film explores a future where the earth is mapped one-to-one with live point cloud data, such that gaps and holes in the map are rare and valuable spaces. Physical objects start appearing in the landscape to hack and create distortions in the point cloud map. These “gaps” hold the potential for the mysteries and fictions that analog maps once contained.

The point clouds generated by these objects are based on real physical models scanned by a Kinect and visualized through the RGBDToolkit and Cinema4D. Each is designed to create distortions specific to their narrative location and use. The form and materials used were developed through a series of studies with the Kinect. 

Upon testing a wide variety of geometries and materials with the Kinect, it became clear that the best distortions could be created with highly reflective materials and with transparent magnifying ones, like prisms and fresnel lenses. The best forms were ones with deep crevices or layered surfaces with occlusions already built into them. The diverse distortions produced by these models suggested different narrative possibilities for the film, as such the script and models were developed simultaneously.