So reads the about section of the Secret Mapping Experiment Facebook page along with links to the group's tumblr and instagram accounts. Keeping secrets isn't an easy thing to do - especially when those secrets revolve around throwing an uninhibited spectrum of light onto, from - and in the case of The Cave into - some spectacularly abandoned or disused spaces and "gigantic masterpieces of engineering machines".
We had a few questions for this secret society and in the spirit of not revealing too much, faces, places and some names have been changed or not provided. Here's what we can tell...
Derivative: Who is the team - or is that a secret? What are your incentives?
Secret Mapping Experiment: The members are experimenter media artists – their names are secret because the purpose of these experiments is the most important aspect and the people behind it are always changing. When necessary, we also recruit a crew who are responsible solely for the photos/videos.
D: How did this project come about?
SME: Abandoned buildings always enchanted us. Our aim is to redefine places that had an important function in the past and give them a new meaning with an entirely new perspective with our projection mappings. There are a lot of neglected and forgotten unique constructions and natural formations out there and we gladly wake them up from their secret past for a night.
D: So are these spontaneous excursions? Or how are these locations selected?
SME: When it comes to choosing a location, the present and the past of a building has a huge role in our decisions. Certainly, we always seek for new places, but we always keep them as a secret.
D: How much gear are you transporting - to the cave for example?
SME: This is also a secret. All we can tell is that it took hours to transport the entire gear into the cave and obviously we only bring what is really needed.
D: What's the process when you get on site?
SME: The first step is always checking out the location, then we do some brainstorming and when we find the best surface(s), we transport the necessary gear to the site. Then we conquer the chosen surface. The interactive contents are inspired by the locations, though mainly the surface defines what and how we project onto it.
D: The Cave is the first not man-made location big mapping project I think? Usually you project onto or from but in this case it was inside? How different an experience was that or not at all?
SME: The cave was really like another world. You had to speak really slowly because of the huge reverb and because of this you became tired faster, but I think everything slows down inside the cave!
The driftstone cave was truly hard to prepare for! We had no idea what would wait us beneath, since we only had a few pictures of it and we couldn't figure out barely anything by just looking at them. We tried to prepare animations, but it was for an unknown, chaotic natural formation, that is really different than working with a mask for a building facade. We would have been glad to spend days in the different cave chambers so we could have created something that lives up to the driftstone's past of millions of years.
D: Is the content created onsite under the impression of the surrounding?
SME: Usually not. Though the prepared animations are always referring somehow to the building's/location's history, but mainly we get inspiration from the surrounding of the location and these contents have the tightest connections with the buildings.
D: What software is used?
SME: Also a secret. (TouchDesigner is our friend, but we use other ones as well.)
D: How and why do you use TouchDesigner?
SME: We use TouchDesigner like this: ■-■-■-■-■-■-■-■-■-■-■-■ and the reason why is that you have millions of ways to do this. :) We believe that the future is real-time interaction so for lots of the projects we use TouchDesigner.
D: Is there any post involved?
SME: The biggest post-production is sorting out the pictures. When taking the photos, it's highly important to show the environment as well. We always do documentation of the mappings – both photos and videos which you can check out at our tumblr page or at our Facebook page.
D: No problem with local authorities? :-)
SME: Usually there is no one even close to the location and we wait until all the lights go down.
D: So what's new?
SME: We did a new projection mapping last weekend - Ghost Building! We mapped the biggest abandoned building in Budapest which no one used in the last 20 years and still stands firmly and empty with its 200 meter length.