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.
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.
FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION
S. Franklyn/Anderson and Associates
Andrew Kudless / Matsys
Jeff Brown, David Randall
REAL TIME DATA FEED PROVIDED BY
Kathrine Marbury and David Vogy
Department of Aviation-Art Program