Animating Glass: Stencil Animation and Smart Materials


Session Title:

  • In Between the Cracks (SP)

Presentation Title:

  • Animating Glass: Stencil Animation and Smart Materials



  • Iconic urban neon has been replaced by the sign of our times, the LED screen, with increased light pollution, wasted energy, environmental damage and stress on the populace. Smart Glass is electronic film switchable between transparent and white. Safe, low voltage and highly durable, it’s one of the emerging class of reactive materials becoming more commercially available yet relatively unexplored for creative potential. Smart materials are binary, switchable and often contiguous. These properties align with the first design tool, the stencil, which has revealed potential in nearly every new media from cave drawings to nanotechnology. In Art History, the brush and chisel get all the glory but the lowly stencil preceded both. Combining the switchable capabilities of Smart Glass with stencils laser cut into frames of animation, a moving image can traverse through physical space, inverting the paradigm of current technologies which present 3D images on 2D surfaces. The paper will present media-archeological approaches to reveal low-energy dimensional signature alternatives to benefit urban environments by exploring ambient, low-energy display that’s more integrated, sustainable and less visually invasive. Poetically, an animated stencil is sequenced light in physical form, like our vanished neon.