Red room cube

Step Inside 'Twin Peaks' Red Room

by Justin W. Sanders  |  05.19.2017

Visitors to Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut this Thursday-Saturday will have the chance to immerse themselves in something even more salaciously sinister than the chain’s famous Bacon Maple Bar – they’ll get to enter the walls of Twin Peaks’ sublime, eerie Red Room.

However, the walls at this outdoor installation, like David Lynch’s series itself, are not exactly what they seem. For one, they’re not actually walls at all. Part of Showtime’s marketing for the long-awaited return of Twin Peaks (May 21, 9:00m ET/PT), the hallucinatory Red Room activation uses anamorphic 3D techniques to immerse visitors in its iconic set piece with little more than paint and the sidewalk.

“If you think about 3D street art, the image is not really what it appears to be, but if you look at it from a very specific point of view, then it comes to life in a very different way,” said Brian Swarth, Showtime’s SVP, Group Director Digital Services. “We thought this sort of distortion would drive curiosity and intrigue in much the same way Twin Peaks has for fans.”

Anamorphic 3D painting is a process of “skewing the entire piece so that lines converge at one point where the viewer stands to take the photo,” said Tampa street painter Nate Baranowski. “It will only look 3D from one angle. Every other angle it will looked stretched out and strange.”

Baranowski collaborated on the Red Room activation with fellow artist Leon Keer, a Dutch street painter who headed up design of the piece in its early stages.

“Before creating the piece on the street, the design is worked out digitally so that there is no guess work when painting this stretched out image,” Baranowski explained.

Keer was traveling internationally during the painting’s preproduction phase, and would send digital updates to Showtime from far-flung locales from around the world. In its final form, the design’s physical application has been split between both artists, with Baranowski laying down both the current Portland version, which runs through May 20, and a Brooklyn version that ran May 10-13 in front of the Academy of Music. Keer himself will paint the final Red Room activation in Los Angeles, where it runs May 25-27 outside the Autry Museum in Griffith Park.

The materials for each Red Room painting vary from location to location. “The site in Brooklyn was created using vinyl flooring that is primed and then painted with acrylic paints,” Baranowski said.

“Other pieces will be created directly on the street with tempera paint, a temporary washable paint. For the acrylic paints the materials are the same as creating a painted mural: Brushes, paints, palettes, and lots of tape to create straight lines.”

Each city visited by the campaign was carefully selected to maximize amplification and shareability through concurrent happenings. The Brooklyn Academy of Music, for instance, kicked off a two-week film series called Peak Performances during the Red Room’s run, which highlights other film roles by Twin Peaks cast members. In Los Angeles, the Eat/See/Hear festival will host one of its outdoor film screenings (of Pulp Fiction, which displays obvious Lynchian influences) and food truck extravaganzas on the evening of May 27.

And Portland, of course, is already a hot spot for Twin Peaks fandom due to the show’s Pacific Northwest setting, but Showtime is also working with Voodoo to distribute a special line of series-inspired doughnuts on May 20. This means that visitors can munch on a Twin Peaks doughnut while actually sitting in the Twin Peaks Red Room, and all while sipping on a damn fine cup of coffee.

And sitting, Swarth said, is the best way to enjoy the painting, as opposed to walking past or around it: “Fans have been waiting for Twin Peaks for over 25 years, and we really wanted to give them a chance to be in the Red Room. If you really want to take advantage of the experience, you actually have to sit on the ground, on the sidewalk. By sitting on the ground in this experience you can mimic Agent Cooper’s wild Red Room fever dream.”

For Baranowski, “3D street paintings give the fans an opportunity to feel as though something from the show has made its way to our world,” he said. “It is a chance to get INSIDE that world. There is a sense of wonder that is captured when 3D art is done correctly. It gives fans of all ages the chance to crawl into the artwork and that immersive experience brings an unexpected sense of joy.”

If you are in Portland, you can drop by Showtime’s 3D Red Room project through Saturday, May 20 at Voodoo Doughnut, 1501 NE Davis Street, Portland, OR 97232. The Voodoo Doughnut line of Twin Peaks doughnuts will be served May 20, noon – 5:00pm.

Los Angeles residents can check it out May 25-27 at Autry Museum, 4700 Western Heritage Way (Griffith Park), Los Angeles, CA 90027

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