e°FLOW Interactive Sculpture

Merit Award 2016

E-paper technology is best known for its use in eReaders around the world. But a unique collaboration between artist Nik Hafermaas of Ueberall International and E Ink Corporation—makers of E Ink Prism™, the eco-friendly, high-fidelity alternative to LED that powers the Kindle reader—has resulted in the world’s largest three-dimensional application of e-paper technology.

E ink has introduced a new product family called Prism to the art and architecture market. Using the same core technology found in eReaders, Prism delivers a completely new and dynamic capability that falls between traditional static architectural finishes and digital technology like video walls. By dynamically changing colors and patterns, Prism transforms architectural spaces and how they are experienced in a way never seen before. Like conventional architectural finishes, E Ink Prism™ reflects the ambient light instead of emitting it. The result is a more subtle effect than displays and video walls. Prism is lightweight, paper thin, mechanically conformable and low power. With e°FLOW, Nikolaus Hafermaas created an interactive sculpture that explores and celebrates the unique capabilities of e-paper on an architectural scale.

e°FLOW is an organic-looking shape that is articulated as a single undulating form. The Prism film allows for swift chromatic changes from one end to the other, creating startling visual effects that are normally limited to onscreen computer graphics.

Developed in close collaboration with a team of E Ink engineers in Billerica, Massachusetts, e°FLOW combines 52 strips of Prism film, custom hardware and a Kinect sensor.

e°FLOW is a 16-ft.-long sculpture that uses motion-sensing technology to respond to the movement and density of the audience with swift chromatic changes that create startling visual effects normally limited to onscreen computer graphics.

The art piece displays a wide range of visual behaviors triggered by sensor input. From a sleep stage with soft breathing disrupted by occasional “dreams,” to reflecting the movements of passersby, to dramatic “startle” modes triggered by spectators waving their arms, the sculpture reacts like an elusive deep-sea creature.

Creating the world’s first large three-dimensional application of e-paper technology as a “proof-of-concept” art piece required development of new fabrication techniques to manipulate the material. Rapid prototyping was used to test various iterations, and the Ueberall/E Ink team also developed a custom controller to provide interactivity for the piece.

e°FLOW is the first in a series of dynamic artworks developed by Hafermaas in collaboration with E Ink using Color Changing Film (CCF) technology at varying architectural scales.

e°FLOW debuted at the 2015 SEGD Conference in Chicago and has since been shown at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. The sculpture has been published in the art and design press, from Brandculture to Whitewall Magazine, and has been selected to be shown at the Superstudio Show at the 2016 Salone Milano.

Jury Comments: 

"I've been waiting to see how e-ink would begin to break free from the tablet! This simple form and installation illustrates the potential lightness of hardware and how it will continue to transform our ability to design new experiences and environments."

"This project re-imagines the potential uses of e-ink, commonly associated with our Kindle readers, as a communication material for spaces. The visual intrigue draws visitors in but interaction with the piece keeps you engaged as the structure takes on new forms."

Client: 

Ueberall International x E Ink Corporation

Project Area: 

16 by 8 by 3 ft.

Open Date: 

May 20xx

Project Budget: 

$180,000

Photo Credits: 

Gary Sloan, Nik Hafermaas, Serge Hoeltschi

Design Team: 

Nikolaus Hafermaas, Ueberall International (artist); Jeano Erforth, Ueberall International (project manager); Ivan Cruz (UX design, software development); George Harris, E Ink Corporation (programming)

Consultants: 

None

Fabricator: 

E Ink Corporation (engineering, fabrication and installation)

Relevant Links: 

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