Julie Taymor’s production was conceived as a “fantasia of light and shadow”. Projection is tightly interwoven with lighting and set elements. The design features starkly contrasty imagery that borrows its appearance from traditional silhouettes, cut outs as well as real flowers, ferns, roots and branches. It took about 7 months to develop the various styles of imagery used in the show due to fact that it is a very visual production and one of the most immediate visual elements of the show was going to be the projeted imagery. Therefore it had to be just right.
The projection surfaces consist of a variety of moving fabrics, the back wall and thin air. All projected elements move, sway, rise or fall, blur or sharpen, appear and disappear to give the design a dream-like quality.
Particular technical challenges were the mapping of imagery to moving and hand-flown fabrics and trying to ensure a continuous legible image on them. This was made more difficult by the fact that the projectors had to be placed out of the way of actors and the audience (as much as possible). As a consequence the projectors hit the fabrics from unusual and challenging angles that make the resulting image quality somewhat unpredictable. However the end results do not draw attention to the techncial challenges, which was the ultimate goal.
None of the fabrics are conventional projection materials so it took a lot of trial and error to work out what would work well for the show: initially fabrics had to be tested and chosen, then the imagery had to be adjusted to look as envisioned on the chosen fabrics.