Ghost ship projected onto Amsterdam canal

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Ghost Ship is an installation at the Amsterdam Light Festival (Photo: Janus van den Eijnden)

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Visitors to Amsterdam at the moment better have nerves of steel. A ghost ship has been spotted moored on one of the city's famous canals. There's no need to be scared, though. The spooky apparition has been created with some clever visual trickery, as part of the Amsterdam Light Festival.

Ghost Ship, as is its perfunctory title, is located off the island of Oosterdok in front of the Amsterdam Center for Architecture (ARCAM) and the National Maritime Museum. Produced by Romanian collective Visual Skin, the illusion is created by projecting an image onto two intersecting perpendicular screens of water. The ethereal installation will not be setting sail anywhere, but wavers and flutters eerily in the wind.

In order to create the phantom ship, four water pumps were each mounted onto a pontoon and floated out into the dock. Two were positioned facing each other at a distance of about 24 m (79 ft) and the other two positioned facing each other at a distance of about 6 m (20 ft) across the center of the first two.

When activated, the water pumps create two screens of water up to 9 m (30 ft) in height that intersect through the middle of each other at 90 degrees. This formation allows for a rudimentary 3D image to be created by projecting the lengthways and sideways images of the ship onto the screens. This is done using two Robert Juliat Heloise 2,500-watt MSR followspots with gobos located on the dockside.

The video below is the documentation of a test run that Visual Skin carried out in Austria during October. Ghost Ship is on display in Amsterdam until January 18th.

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