Motorists along the Interstate 5 freeway and Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego, Calif., recently may have noticed a
massive art installation as they pass the airport’s
Rental Car Center—or maybe not.
Inspired by World War I camouflage applied to
naval ships, the monumental public artwork com-
missioned by San Diego County Regional Airport
Authority features more than 2,000 solar-powered
tiles that display custom, dynamic animations across
the exterior of the building. The project features
E Ink Prism, a digital ink technology similar to that
found in e-readers adapted to an architectural scale.
For the DAZZLE project, the artist team at
Ueberall International conceived a site-specific
design that responds to the unique façade and
brings the structure to life. Ueberall designed the
artwork with inspiration from Norman Wilkinson’s
“razzle dazzle” camouflage technique used during
World War I in the waters of San Diego to alter
the perception of naval ships to the enemy by
visually scrambling their shapes and outlines.
The artist team experimented with different
ways to execute a geometric camouflage pattern.
The breakthrough came with the idea of applying
e-paper technology to the 1,600-foot façade,
turning it into a gigantic canvas for pixel animations.
The e-paper tiles are articulated in a parallelogram
shape and arranged in algorithmic distances to
each other to create an overall dynamic visual
effect even when the pixels are still. Each tile has
an integrated solar cell for power, electronics for
operation, and wireless communication to create
unique animations developed by the artists.
interiors+sources recently spoke with Nick
Hafermaas, co-founder of Ueberall, to learn more
about this groundbreaking art project and its
innovative use of E Ink technology.
interiors+sources: Tell us more about the
inspiration for the DAZZLE project and how
you landed on E Ink as a solution.
NICK HAFERMAAS: As a team of three artists, we
applied for the request for qualification (RFQ) and
once we got that job we went to work conceptually.
We knew we wanted to do something that as a
visual was a pretty radical digital transformation
of that façade that’s a third of a mile long. As a
reference, I came across dazzle camouflage, so the
main conceptual idea is looking toward that historic
ship camouflage which was done in World War I
and was actually tested in the waters outside of
the San Diego coast, so there’s a local connection.
Then we researched. The simplest thing is just
to paint a black pattern onto the façade and call
By Robert Nieminen | Photography courtesy of Pablo Mason
Inspired by WWI camouflage, the DAZZLE public art project at
San Diego International Airport uses digital ink technology to
dynamically transform the building’s façade into a local icon.