Wild animals ‘appeared’ in New York to send a message about habitat destruction

Alarmed by the pace at which habitats are being destroyed, Mexican studio ‘Maizz Visual’ recently put up an installation that makes animals judgingly stare at the culprits ruining their homes: us.

The installation, called Animal Watching, featured a massive video projection that transformed the canopy of trees into faces of eight different animals, including a lion, an owl, and an elephant.

Using 3D animation software, the designers were able to give the animals life-like expressions, which were aimed at more than 50,000 attendees at New York’s Electric Zoo Festival in Randall’s Island Park.

“The intervention goal was raising awareness about the destruction of ecosystems and animal species,” the studio explained.

The installation first debuted in Parque Espana, Mexico City during the Marvin Festival earlier this year. We recently caught up with ‘Maizz Visual’ to know more about Animal Watching.

Where did you get the idea for Animal Watching?

“Maizz Visual, directed by José Morente and Israel Villalobos, has experimented for over four years with projection mapping on trees with other video installations.

“But it was after reading an article about the WWF organization saying that, ‘in the last 42 years, almost half of the wild animals have disappeared due to the serious deterioration of their habitats’, we decided to make the piece Animal Watching.

“We thought that putting together the animals and their habitats, the trees, we were sending a powerful message.”

How difficult was it to project animal faces onto trees? What were the challenges you encountered when you started this project?

“Maizz´s previous experience projecting and mapping huge faces on trees, made the process to make the animal faces work not too complex, although it took some time making some of the animal faces looked fully integrated with the leaves. In fact, we had to discard some animations that didn´t look 3D enough when video projected on trees.”

How long did it take you to complete the entire animation and projection process?

Animal Watching is a seven-minute long piece that displays eight shorter animations representing eight different animal faces. To accomplish it we had to work firstly selecting the animal images to be transformed into 3D and then animating each individually. This took us about three weeks to finish it and to be ready to present during Marvin Festival 2017, Mexico City.”

We love how the animals could stare back at the crowd. How did people react to these images?

“When people realize that those shining lights on the treetops are, in fact, giant faces with huge eyes staring at them, they freak out, they love it, they point at them and smile. Some people can’t stop looking at them and spend over an hour looking at trees… it is very funny.”

What change do you hope to happen after people see Animal Watching?

“We hope that people, apart from being amazed, take a minute to relate to trees and animals with habitats, and doing so, think about how to preserve them. Hopefully, it will also make them think twice the next time they are about to light a fire in the forest or damage a tree.”

Where do you plan to take the installation next?

Animal Watching has been shown so far in Mexico City and New York, but we´d like to take it to many more events and cities. We are working to add more dates to our 2017/18 schedule, but for now, we can’t confirm any.”

To find out more about Maizz Visual and their work, check out their website.