airFIELD Sculpture by Dan Goods

airFIELD is a mesmerizingly beautiful example of “physical animation” — animation that takes place in physical space, free from the pixel-based surfaces that traditionally act as motion design media.

The airFIELD is a dynamic sculpture that reflects the heartbeat of the world’s busiest hub, the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Each flight that lands or takes off from this airport activates the visual behavior of the sculpture. Planes traveling a short distance create small ripples in the sculpture while planes traveling a longer distance cause greater activity.

The “pixels” of airFIELD are arrays of 10-inch circular liquid crystal tiles that can be “switched” on and off.

airfield3 tech_02

As the creators explain on the project website:

The sculpture requires electrical and data connectivity all the way down the piece so that each disc is able to fade from 0%-100% opacity. This changing translucency from totally clear to opaque white is the essence of the airFIELD’s monochromatic physical animation.

That’s only half of the story, though. Behind the scenes, a system is tracking inbound and outbound flights at the Atlanta airport and feeding that data in real-time to the display field, culminating in an elegant visualization of the world’s busiest airport.

airFIELD launched nearly 3 years ago, but its timeless beauty and ingenuity make it an enduring case study of animation crafted at the human scale.

Credits

ARTISTS
Jamie Barlow
Dan Goods
Nik Hafermaas

PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Jamie Barlow

PRODUCED BY
UEBERSEE

CUSTOM SOFTWARE
Daniel Massey

FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION
Jim Hetherington

TECHNICAL DIRECTION
Gustavo Huber

ENGINEERING
S. Franklyn/Anderson and Associates

PARAMETRIC DESIGN
Andrew Kudless / Matsys

HARDWARE
Jeff Brown, David Randall

REAL TIME DATA FEED PROVIDED BY
FlightAware

iPAD CUSTOMIZATION
Alex Smith

SPECIAL THANKS
Kathrine Marbury and David Vogy
Department of Aviation-Art Program

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About the author

Justin Cone

/ justincone.com
Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer and F5. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

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