Just because you have computers doesn’t mean you have to stop drawing and painting. It’s an obvious revelation, but merging physical and virtual technologies is an art in itself, one that’s just beginning to blossom.

To bring environmental messages to life and illustrate the profound connection of the city of San Francisco to its watershed, artist Gabe Shaughnessy and team created a digitally-augmented mural. The mural itself is beautiful, but watch through to about a minute and a half into the video to see something magical happen: projections add virtual animation to the work. The convergence of old and new technologies for illustration match perfectly with the seen and unseen story of the source of a major city’s drinking water.

Gabe himself is a VDMX user and posts this to the Vidvox forums. Here’s how he describes the work – and how it is rendered – on YouTube:

This is the documentation of an interactive art installation at Symbiosis Gathering 2009, held in Camp Mather, California, Adjacent to Yosemite National Park.
The installation was a mural that participants used a custom built midi controller. The mural uses augmented reality, a technique where digital information is projected onto a real world surface, in this case a painting. The painting is colored with projected light, and using photoshop, vdmx ad particle illusion software, the mural becomes interactive.
The city of San Francisco bought Camp Mather and made the OShaughnessy Dam to provide fresh drinking water and preserve the pristine quality of the water for the city. Today the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir provides the drinking water to 2.4 million people in the Bay Area, via a WPA era pipeline that runs across two fault lines remains a preeminent feat of engineering to this day.
The purpose of the mural was to help people understand the effect they have on the watershed, and to understand a bit about the delicate nature of their surroundings at Symbiosis Gathering.
The mural was painted collaboratively by Dan Cohen and Gabe Shaughnessy. Travis McCann was the Technician and this film was shot by M1 and Christopher Darrow and edited by Christopher. The sound track is a preliminary mix of a song titled 53-sidecar by Sidecar Tommy and MiMoSa. All materials are copyright 2009.

It’s just a stunningly beautiful work. I hope we’ll see more ideas like this; the possibilities are literally as large as the entire history of mural painting.