Usual­ly, we do not tend to ima­gi­ne for just how ma­ny dif­fe­rent di­s­ci­p­li­nes so­me­t­hing that in­i­tial­ly seems as eve­r­y­day and tri­vial as ‘sur­faces' play an im­portant ro­le, na­me­ly in art, in al­most all areas of de­sign, in co­unt­less tech­ni­cal fields, in the na­tu­ral sci­en­ces of cour­se, and not least in the hu­mani­ties, too. It the­re­fo­re seems qui­te plau­si­b­le that the phe­no­me­non of the sur­face is an es­pe­cial­ly pro­mi­sing ob­ject for trans­di­s­p­li­na­ry ap­proa­ches to R&D. Just how fruit­ful a glan­ce over at other fields can be is shown by a small but ve­ry ex­ci­ting group show being held in Ber­lin's Ae­des gal­le­ry. En­tit­led "Mem­bra­nes, Sur­faces, Boun­da­ries. Crea­ting In­ter­sti­ces", the at ti­mes slight­ly awk­ward ex­hi­bi­ti­on show se­veral, in part es­sen­tial­ly ex­pe­ri­men­tal pro­jects as well as others that are ve­ry ad­van­ced - all on the sub­ject of sur­faces and re­la­te to the in­ter­sti­ces of art, de­sign, ar­chi­tec­tu­re, phy­sics, elec­tro­nics and ma­te­rials re­se­arch.

Whi­le Su­s­an­na Her­trich ta­kes a con­cep­tual ar­tistic ap­proach to ad­dress the to­pic and her works tend to in­ves­ti­ga­te the emo­tio­nal si­de to sur­faces, Cle­mens Wink­ler con­stru­es sur­face as a "le­vel in­ter­me­dia­ting bet­we­en hu­mans and their sur­roun­dings". In his ca­se, this then ta­ke the con­c­re­te sha­pe of dif­fe­rent ty­pes of unu­sual in­ter­faces that in­vi­te you to in­ter­act with them. And he suc­ceeds most im­pres­si­ve with his "Po­wer Pen". Using a pen­cil you can lay gra­phi­te tracks on a sur­face and, when tou­ched, a weak cur­rent flows th­rough them which is it­s­elf ren­de­red au­di­b­le by me­ans of an amp at­ta­ched to the pen­cil.

Un­li­ke this se­duc­ti­ve but mo­re ex­pe­ri­men­tal ap­proach, the "Bling­C­re­te" by Hei­ke Kluss­mann and Thors­ten Kloos­ter is al­most rea­dy to go in­to pro­duc­ti­on. Vi­sua­li­zed by me­ans of co­unt­less, lar­ge-si­ze ma­te­rial spe­ci­mens, it cle­ar­ly forms the he­art of the show. Bling­C­re­te is a form of re­tro­re­f­lec­ti­ve con­c­re­te that re­f­lects light rays fal­ling it back in the di­rec­ti­on of their sour­ce - it is an opti­cal phe­no­me­non that is used, for examp­le, for road mar­kings. He­re, re­tro­re­f­lec­ti­on ari­ses by in­te­g­ra­ting mi­cro-sphe­res of glass in­to the sur­face of the con­c­re­te. In a com­plex high-tech pro­duc­ti­on pro­cess that re­qui­red a ma­jor de­ve­lop­ment ef­fort, the duo ha­ve co­me up with a sur­face that, de­pen­ding on the ang­le from which you see it and the am­bi­ent light, ap­pears matt at one mo­ment on­ly to shim­mer bright­ly the next, crea­ting a haptic ex­pe­ri­en­ce at the sa­me ti­me. Thanks to the­se fa­s­ci­na­ting pro­per­ties, Bling­C­re­te can be used for a who­le ar­ray of pos­si­b­le ap­p­li­ca­ti­ons, be they ar­tistic/aes­thetic or practi­cal/us­e­ful. Bling­C­re­te evol­ved as part of a re­se­arch pro­ject at Kas­sel Uni­ver­si­ty and can qui­te right­ly be con­s­i­de­red a pro­to­ty­pe for the trans­di­s­ci­p­li­na­ry de­ve­lop­ment of ma­te­rials, de­li­ve­ring what it pro­mi­ses.

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Ad­ded-va­lue sur­faces
Mathias Remmele