it a day. The next level up, then, was to explore
different reflective materials, like the 3M film that
you’d use for traffic signs or street markings. The
idea was to have a passive pattern that still gets
activated by the passing traffic.
We experimented. We went and did the full-scale mock ups and around that time I received
a phone call from a gentleman from E Ink and he
said, "We like your work; we like your experimental
approach. We are the makers of E Ink material and
we’ve done a couple of million Kindle screens.
Now we’re able to print out the same material a mile
long, but we don’t know what to do with it." And
this is where things fell into place. We said, "We
just won an art commission to do a big façade;
we should investigate whether your dynamic
material is actually applicable to an
i+s: What were some of the challenges in
applying the e-reader technology to such a
NH: There were plenty of challenges that we had
to overcome collectively and it only was possible
because the engineers were willing to be very
creative. Also, we had to find a common language
and common understanding between art, design,
and engineering and that worked extremely well
with the E Ink team.
From the technology side, I think it’s fair to say
this was a massive undertaking on behalf of E Ink
to get the material ready for an exterior application.
They needed to make it absolutely resistant to
the elements. You also have to generate enough
photovoltaic energy to actually run these tiles and
at the same time you have to be able to store it in
a way that can support thousands and thousands
of cycles of charge and discharge. You have to
generate a wireless network that can address
each of the 2, 100 tiles individually—it needs to
know every tile by name. You have to find an
attachment method of the tiles to the façade that
is robust enough that they don’t start slipping
off but still can be removed without [damage].
You have to devise a system on how to map the
geometry of the tiles onto the geometry of the
façade, which is quite complex.
i+s: What is your hope for this project?
NH: My hope would be—and also E Ink’s hope—
that our DAZZLE art piece is inspiring other
architects, other corporations, to embrace a
different approach to media and their environment.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this will
help revolutionize how we use media on an urban
scale and architectural scale.
BELOW LEFT TO RIGHT The building's geometric
camouflage pattern was inspired by Norman
Wilkinson's "razzle dazzle" technique used to
alter the perception of naval ships to the enemy
ABOVE E Ink thoroughly prepared its material for the
1,600-foot exterior application which includeed making
it resistant to natural elements.