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.