“Projected in Place” Brings Art to Life

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"Attack upon the Chew House" (1898) by Howard Pyle. Projected in Place at Cliveden, Germantown, PA, July, 2022.

One of the most fascinating parts of living in a place known for its artistic history is constantly seeing the real-world sites depicted in famous works of art. Just drive through the Brandywine countryside—or even down Route 1—and you will recognize scenes that are displayed in museums around the world. While artists continue to take inspiration from these scenes and depict them in new, interesting ways, a different type of project is returning famous works of art and historical photographs to their original settings.

"Loden Coat" by Andrew Wyeth. Kuerner Farm, Chadds Ford, PA. Projected in Place, January, 2022.

Projected in Place is an ongoing series of installations that uses projection mapping to display artwork, photographs, and other imagery on various backgrounds. Michael Lynch and Matt Nelson, who created the project, started tinkering with the idea of large-scale installations and testing the idea at various sites around West Chester. “Then, while working at Lincoln University in Oxford, I came across some amazing historical photos of a young Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes during their time as students at LU,” says Lynch. “When I identified the locations where the photos were taken, I was curious to see what the images of the photos may look like if projected onto those exact spaces.”

The project took off from there. “The very first attempt was the 1916 Lincoln University Baseball Team, standing in front of Amos Hall,” Lynch explains. “Needless to say, the resulting effect felt magical and intriguing, and we’ve been hooked since.” 

Lynch and Nelson work with various locations and organizations to create unique presentations and experiences. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with the right pairing of content and location. “Those choices are solely based on the projectable content available,” says Lynch. “If I come across an interesting photo or painting that is of a location that is still intact and relatively unchanged from the time the image was created, then I feel a sort of compulsion to go and see what the image looks like projected in place.”

"Renfield" (1999) by Andrew Wyeth. Painter's Folly, Chadds Ford, PA. Projected in Place, October, 2021.

Creating installations dependent upon exterior locations can introduce unknown factors. “There are some natural challenges we’ve had to face such as the weather, or what time of year the sun sets and having to plan around that,” says Lynch. They also have to plan ahead with locations to get access to the spaces that are depicted in the photographs and artworks.

Finding Projected in Place is as simple as keeping an eye out in the evenings, as they sometimes will create installations showcasing various images at random locations throughout the Brandywine Valley. But there are also some great events coming up where people can see the project’s past and future. 

“We are so honored and excited to have our short film, Projecting at the Ford, featured this year at the West Chester Short Film Festival during the weekend of April 28th – 30th,” says Lynch. Their film will be shown in the film block at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center on Saturday, April 29th at 6 pm. Projecting at the Ford includes projected images as well as voiceovers from Chadds Ford artists Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, and Karl Kuerner.

"Patriots Barn" by Jamie Wyeth (2002). Projected in Place, September, 2021.

“We are also planning on another historic photo projection display this spring or summer at the Sanderson Museum in Chadds Ford,” Lynch continues. And there is more: “This fall, we are scheduled to do a series of projection installations for a First Friday Art Loop at the Howard Pyle Studios in Wilmington DE.”

They have hopes and ideas for many other collaborations in the future. “We’d very much love the opportunity to travel to Maine, and have access to the Olson House and some other locations where Andrew Wyeth worked and lived,” says Lynch. “There is so much content to be projected there.”

They also would like to bring Projected in Place to other iconic locations. “I’d also love to take this concept on the road to do a series of multiple projection installations of historic American images throughout the country,” Lynch says. “That’s a bucket list item for sure.”

"The Marriage Bed" (1993) by Andrew Wyeth. Projected in Place, November, 2022.

Projected in Place helps connect audiences to artworks, photographs, and images. “To see a disembodied painting hanging on a wall in a museum is one experience, but to see that painting or photo placed exactly where it originally happened offers an enhanced sense of contextuality, and maybe also that feeling of the delicate, fleeting nature of history,” Lynch explains. “We like to hope that the momentary reunion of the painting or photograph at the site of its depiction situates the image more deeply with a feeling of placeness for the viewer.”

Projected in Place is an installation which uses large-scale projection modeling to create unique exhibitions of artwork, photography, and other imagery. More information about upcoming exhibitions can be found @Projected_in_place on Instagram and on Facebook at Projected in Place.

About Victoria Rose

Victoria Rose (she/her) is an editor, writer, avid reader, self-described geek, and fan of all things creative. Her passion for words has led to her current career as a freelance editor, and she is the owner of Flickering Words, an editing service. When not wielding a red pen (or cursor), she loves reading books of all genres, playing video, board, and word games, baking ridiculous creations to show off on the internet, or enjoying the gorgeous outdoors. She is a board member of the West Chester Film Festival and part of the Thirsty Monsters, a team of streamers from around the world who fundraise for various charities supporting LGBTQIA+ and accessibility rights. She can be found online @WordsFlickering or the Brandywine Art Guide @BrandywineArtGuide.

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