Die Welle (The Wave)

ProjectDie Welle (The Wave)Location Oberhausen, GermanyLighting Designer Die Luftwerker, Germany (planning and construction of Die Welle structure), SIGMA AV, Germany (other AV design and integration)InstallerArs Electronica SolutionsSubmitted by3WM Commumincations

Planet Ozean (Planet Ocean), a new exhibition focusing on the beauty of the world’s seas, opened at the Gasometer Oberhausen – a former gas holder-turned-exhibition space in the Ruhr, Germany – on 15th March.

Undoubtedly the highlight of Planet Ozean is the large-scale immersive work Die Welle (The Wave), centred on a custom AV Stumpfl Flex Contrast PRO projection screen that rises 40 metres into the sky from the Gasometer’s central gallery. Conceived and implemented by Ars Electronica Solutions, Die Welle allows visitors to experience a photorealistic ocean world featuring gigantic crashing waves, life-sized whales and sea jellies, and huge schools of ocean fish.

The computer-generated content for Die Welle was developed from scratch by Ars Electronica Solutions, which began by simulating a virtual oceanic basin with a volume of over six million cubic metres of water. Using seven 30,000-lumen Epson laser projectors, the final product is projected onto a vast interlocking screen surface, creating an immersive, true-to-life deep ocean panorama.

At an imposing 40m × 20m, the L-shaped Die Welle screen presented a challenge for Ars Electronica Solutions and AV integrator SIGMA, which was tasked with the projector set-up. Ars Electronica Solutions’ Patrick Müller and his team came up with the idea to split the AV Stumpfl projector screens into five sections, each the right size for the projected video content.

Being exposed to the elements, the Gasometer Oberhausen’s 100m-high gallery space (located in the centre of the gas holder) is a challenging space for projected images due to the presence of ambient light. In order deliver a immersive, realistic experience for visitors, Ars Electronica Solutions required a screen that would offer deep black levels and an ultra-high contrast ratio, even in settings with unwanted light, where conventional screens can appear washed out. Flex Contrast PRO (formerly Flex Black PRO) allows for the projection of highly impressive images even in bright environments, with a quality of image reproduction comparable to LED and other light-emitting display technologies, making it a perfect fit for Die Welle.

The screens’ black colour also ensures they blend in with their surroundings – another key consideration for the Gasometer.

The 40m-high AV Stumpfl projection surface featured in the installation is the tallest screen in the world, its colossal size facilitating what Nils Sparwasser, curator of Die Welle, describes as “a completely new, immersive experience that would be only be possible here in the Gasometer.” As Jeanette Schmitz, managing director of Gasometer Oberhausen GmbH, observes, “where else would you get the chance to go on a hunt with sharks or marvel at humpback whales in their original size?”

Helped by the record-breaking Die Welle installation, Planet Ozean is also the Gasometer Oberhausen’s most successful show to date, Schmitz adds: “In the first four weeks, we welcomed more than 150,000 visitors to the exhibition. This makes Planet Ozean the most successful exhibition in terms of visitor numbers in the Gasometer’s 30-year history as an exhibition hall.”