The Photosynthesis project — a collaboration between Obscura, Illuminate (instigators of the Bay Lights), and San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers — transforms the Conservatory into an artistic canvas by night. This analog projection system bathes the building in stunning imagery of the flowers and butterflies housed inside, teasing out what hides beneath its whitewashed curtain, catching the eye of passers-by, sparking curiosity and drawing them in through captivating beauty.

Six image themes are combined with classic built-in gobo effects like focus shift, rotation, filters, and background colors, as well as six LED floodlights to illuminate the building with a color wash. As a straight-up optical system, these beautiful projections are unique in Obscura’s stylistic repertoire, and certainly have been a fascinating challenge to tackle.

Obscura extended gobo technology by applying projection mapping techniques to the glass slides. The building was laser scanned to create a 3D model, and we used image warping and masking to conform the images to its architectural facets. The distorted image was printed on the gobo, taking those considerations — and the angles from which the projectors aim — into account.