It is nothing more than an optical illusion that has been used before in some impressive moments, like the one that brought Tupac back to life on stage at Coachella. Once people got a taste for it, it was also used for recreating the British seasons for Dunhill’s Shanghai fashion show in order to allow Dita von Teese to morph from a Christian Louboutin shoe before performing at London’s Design Museum.
The projection, simply called The Siren is a life-sized 3D optical illusion created by Laura Jean Healey, a Fine Arts graduate from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. How the idea came to be materialized is a whole story to tell.
The artist had previously used the Musion system — a reinvention of the 19th Century theatrical trick, Pepper’s Ghost. It was however for a whole different goal and mindset. She had used it to create some pre-ordered work for the Burberry Body perfume campaign. A few years before, the system was used also at the premiere of Mikhailovsky’s “Swan Lake” in London in 2010.
However, shooting in a pool full of water brought several problems on the table. Being a bit nervous, as it was the first time, as Healey says, that the Phantom Flex camera has been used underwater.
Healey brought to the tem underwater photographer Mark Silk, whose film credits include Stardust. Together, they created a custom housing for the camera and opted to shoot at the Underwater Studio in Basildon.
The plan was to shoot the siren, a synchronized swimmer that was selected for this, through a window but the photographer knew that it needed to be filmed underwater if he were to get the right angle. The image that is caught on tape is amazing, as the camera move does not seem to be moving during the five-minute sequence.
Another challenge to overcome, was the lighting. “Lighting was difficult as we had to build from black as we had to film on a black background. This means that anything black will just disappear,” says Healey. Therefore they had to light everything from above.
“The result is amazing to experience. Just as if the Siren would actually be there.”