Recognizes Touchscreen Video Wall Mural

March 20, 2014

Olga Mayer's touchscreen video wall mural at Central Washington University earns distinction as one of 25 most impressive university murals in the U.S.

Universities are not only communities for scholars and teachers, they're also a staple in art and culture that is crucial to our society. Art programs benefit universities by attracting more potential applicants and producing well-rounded graduates. Moreover, murals can be a highly visible way for a university to show its support for the arts, while simultaneously adding to the beauty and distinctiveness of the campus.

With that achievement in mind, set about selecting the top 25 most impressive murals found on college campuses.

"When we began examining this topic, we were stunned by the range of styles and approaches to mural creation, which range from single artist to computer guided to group collaboration," said editor Jesse Rochus. "From a technical perspective, this is one of the most exciting and vibrant areas we've had a chance to study, and we suspect that all these murals are a significant source of inspiration for their communities."

Making the list, which included two works of renowned muralist Thomas Hart Benton, was Olga Mayer's touchscreen video wall mural at Central Washington University (CWU). Professional video and audio systems integration firm Advanced Broadcast Solutions (ABS) of SeaTac, Wash. was responsible for the installation, which integrated an interactive digital display with a static mural. Located in Barge Hall, the university's first building, which opened in 1894, the interactive video wall showcases CWU's growing list of distinguished faculty through photos and video clips.

Originally, the wall outside the university president's office was lined with framed images of some of the university's 101 distinguished faculty members from past and present. While certainly traditional, the display was not very dynamic.

"We had this idea for a mural and we wanted to embed a video presentation in it," said Olga Mayer, digital artist at CWU. "The history of any university is very rich. So many photographs get tossed in the archives and we forget about those people."

Touchscreen video wall mural at Central Washington University earns distinction among university murals.

A long panoramic image of the region was placed on the wall on both sides of the 2×2 video wall, and the screens display an outdoor image that blends into the painting when other material is not playing. The video wall was built using a 46-inch Planar Clarity Matrix LCD video wall system with six-point touch capabilities, with controls that emulate an iPad interface.

"New touchscreen technology really doesn't fit in an old building unless you present it well," Mayer said. "That was a challenge."

In June 2013, ABS was faced with a hard deadline of the end of CWU's fiscal year. Having worked on several projects with various departments at CWU in the past, ABS completed the project within two weeks. Completing the video presentation, however, was expected to take much longer. Under the direction of Linda Schactler, executive director of CWU Office of Public Affairs, content for the presentation is ongoing.

Part of the appeal of the interactive mural is that faculty lectures, projects and even musical performances can be included in each faculty member's profile template.

"Everyone is excited," said Mayer. "When new students tour our campus, they will be able to learn about the people who have contributed to the quality of education at CWU."

While obtaining information, photos and video clips from current faculty members is relatively easy, information from retired faculty must be retrieved from the archives and digitized. Some profiles were posted in time for the new quarter that began in late September 2013, but creating the entire presentation was expected to take several months.

The complete list with photos and descriptions can be found here.

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