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An airport's flowing wall

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  December 6, 2012 11:40 AM

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textscapes cropped.jpg

In recent years a number of airports around the world have begun hosting large-scale art installations, and one of the most striking is Textscapes, a wall of ever-shifting type near a security line at the Vienna International Airport by Ars Electronica Future Lab.

Textscapes depicts an endless stream of alphabet letters fluttering down to the ground like snowflakes, where they pile up across a series of monitors in an evocative, shifting topography of phrases in different languages. The volume of falling letters changes according to the number of people passing by, and the contours of the accumulated text change to reflect air traffic patterns: hills develop in response to take-offs, valleys in response to landings.

Besides being innovative as art, Textscapes would seem to serve a more practical end as well—as a salve to security line stress, and a reminder to single-minded travelers that airports are complex places where sometimes you just have to accept your place in the flow.

For more innovative airport installations, check out eCLOUD at San Jose International Airport, Signal To Noise at the Toronto International Airport, and CLOUD at London’s Heathrow.

[Above: detail from Textscapes, courtesy Ars Electronica Futurelab.]

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

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Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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