Aug 112011

After the success of the previous wall, the good folk at De Buurvrouw asked me to back to decorate their main wall in the bar. The inspiration came from the famous song by The Beat ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’ (there’s a fantastic interview with Dave Wakeling about the origin of the songs’ lyrics, not what you think). More details, a few 360 degree panoramas and a video after the jump

Mirror in the bathroom please talk free
The door is locked just you and me.
Can I take you to a restaurant that’s got glass tables
You can watch yourself while you are eating.


I wanted to develop the square tile pattern from the first room, to create a black and white bathroom scene complete with mirrors (more about that in a bit) and a spot colour (initially some flourescence too). At first I even wanted to put up some toilet roll holders around the bar, but it got sidelined as a result of concerns over hygiene. The ceiling was really narrow, so the effect would be quite limiting overhead. There was a diagonal staircase creating an obscure corner, which proved to be just the right kind of challenge. I’d force it to continue upwards beyong the constrains of the ceiling.

For a few reasons I chose to create a huge hole in the wall, with the mirrors. When speaking to some of the staff and clientelle at the bar, it soon became apparent that they were uncomfortable looking at the same, inanimate scene over again. The ‘hole of mirrors’ would simulate the ever changing ambience above the bar in front of it, literally reflecting it as it would be created by mirrors, stuck to the wall. It was just the right height to avoid being used by the vain amongst the patrons. I looked into having a glazier make the 3 (very large!) pieces to create a really special effect from the sweet spot, it was just way too expensive.

I painted the artwork in aerosol, straight over the edge of the square, adhesive backed mirrors, hiding the edge and creating a convincing hole effect. As you walked into the bar, it really does have the initial impact of there being some wall removed.

Play with the new 360 viewer

ACTIVE NOW!! New display feature for the site in v2.0

The digital sketch below shows how I began planning it out in Sketchup. The overlay (in thin red line) is from an approximate measurement I made with a few torn ligaments in one arm since I had recently flown like superman after an accident on my bike near Centraal, injuries are as of writing (August) not healed completely. What I get excited about is that the 360 degree photograph that I took on my initial site visit is beneath the Sketchup version, and it is almost spot on!!! (*polishes fingernails*).

When I had the mathematics nailed, locating the sweet spot (at the end of the bar, beneath the raised DJ booth) and distorting the planes, I then had to create the faux realism. I used Sketchup again to realise the lighting, I didn’t have too long in the bar to finish the painting. I produced it in 3 nights, after the bar had closed, through to the afternoon. I don’t usually go this far with the modelling beforehand, but I had to build & position the props in the scene.

I never aim to mimic the line quality of a computer render, opting incessantly for an organic edge – natural to aerosol paint. To this end, the 3d modelling economises on positioning the camera correctly, with basic geometry to simulate light fall correctly. Once this is as complete as possible, in the time frame, sketches on myPalmtop v1.0, running HumanBrain v2.0 are produced:

The scene is a plane-shifted bathroom, on each plane there is an object found inside most domestic bathrooms. This one belonged to the imaginary De Burrvrouw (dutch, meaning the neighbour’s wife, after the venue’s name). On the regular plane was the toilet cubicle, on the floor plane is a sink, and on the wall plane is a shower. Its quite an energetic start, using ladders to create the manual layout planes, and getting all the dynamics & scale correct. On a large scale this can have an eerie feeling as you move around the sweet spot, viewed from the floor the distortion is in its purest, undressed form.

Watch the timelapse video

I set up a timelapse camera, capturing every 30 seconds or so. The video below also has a soundtrack made by Amsterdam’s own Dr Marshmallow Cubicle, featuring the many talents of another long time collaborator and dear friend Steve FlyAgaric Pratt with guitar by Vicente Pino.

Version of soundtrack used in video

The title (Sodtherich) speaks for itself, rhymes by Steve Fly.
SODTHERICH by flyagaric23
The paint came from the lovely people down Henx supplies. Thanks to Daan, Robin, Steve & Chris for all their help and patience.

Final 360 degree panorama

The neighbour’s wife left something switched on, can you find it, and do you know what she left switched on? Answers below…