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Conservatory Of Flowers Set To Light Up With Trippy Visuals

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A new light display is set to commemorate 50 years since the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park Wednesday night.

The conservatory of flowers will be illuminated with a flowery, groovy and mildly trippy projections during the June 21 celebration.

"The Conservatory of Flowers is one of the most beautiful canvases in the city that we could project on," said Ann Brilz with Obscura Digital, the San Francisco-based creative studio known for its sophisticated visual installations like the Salesforce lobby wall and the San Francisco City Hall 100th anniversary celebration projection display.

The Conservatory of Flower provided a blank canvas, but certainly not a flat one.

"No, the topology of this building is super crazy," said Obscura Digital's James Ellis

So the Obscura Digital team started by making a digital map the Conservatory.

"To figure out where projectors and cameras go," explained Ellis.

It also allowed them to bend and shape the artwork so it lands flat on the building.

"So you build the distortion into the rendering," said Ellis.

Those distorted renderings are projected through a laser-cut lens, each one a stack of dichroic and aluminum filters that combine for one multi-color image.

"So this is one of our full-color gobos, this is part of a scene we call 'butterfly,' And each of those filters are laser-etched and they glue it together into a sandwich to make up a full-color plate," said Joe Martin with Obscura Digital.

And that simple lens idea is genuinely throwback.

"The actual technology they use for the projectors is analog, like old vinyl record from 1967," said Ben Davis with Illuminate, the non-profit arts group that put together the Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge.

"Light shows, prisms. Tube amps, Polaroids? Absolutely. Like any of those things ever really went away," enthused Ellis. "They kind of just got more popular with time."

So it's analog old meets digital new to celebrate a 50th anniversary. And, in case you're wondering, the whole complex projection unit was installed to stay.

On Wednesday night, the new lighting project will be celebrated with a free concert featuring a variety of Bay Area musicians including players from Ratdog, the Jefferson Airplane, the Chambers Brothers and many others performing songs from the Summer of Love prior to a grand lighting ceremony at 9:15 p.m.

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