Nova 3D display in Zurich

Nova 3D display in Zurich


When you arrive in Zurich by train, the very first thing you discover from the city is a massive light installation hanging up the ceiling of the train station.


It looks like a big 3D matrix made out of ping-pong ball, where each ball is like a pixel, and can be controlled independently, so it can be used like a 3D screen, and display abstract minimal animations, low-res videos or 3D scenes, which makes it the world-wide first three-dimensional, bivalent color display.

NOVA - 3D Lightsculpture NOVA - 3D Lightsculpture

It reminds me the small Led cubes I’ve seen at 23C3 in Berlin, but this huge version has 25000 “pixels” (10 x 50 X 50) which can light up in more than 16 million colors, and is 3.3 tons heavy.
I was in Zurich in may for the Tweakfest festival [view blog post], and there was a smaller (1000 pixels) version of the installation in the festival hall.

NOVA - mini 3D Lightsculpture NOVA - small 3D Lightsculpture NOVA - small 3D Lightsculpture

It’s fascinating to discover new displays, and this installation adds a third dimensions to all the visuals displayed, and creates a very interesting depth: move around while you’re looking at the structure, and the same visuals will look different from another angle..
I stayed staring at the installation for about 20 minutes, and they were nice visuals, quite minimal and simple (but sometimes with a mess of colors, or old school patterns), I guess they’ve been created by some programmers. I discovered later that there’s actually a program, with some details and explanations about each sequence. I really would have loved to see this one.

I’m not sure if designers, animators and artists can submit their visuals and animations, but it could actually be very interesting to see how people can use this amazing x, y, z media.

I was also fascinated by the idea itself of being able to create 3D light displays.. Imagine the same installation, with transparent “pixels”, made with much smaller lights in a dense matrix (and I’m sure the nanotechnologies will permit to achieve this in a near future) and then you’ll be able to display real holograms. I’ve been studying the idea for a long time, and the hologram secret would be a 3D matrix of self-emitting light nano pixels floating in the air.. Let’s wait and see what the Future brings us. :)

The Nova project, has been created by ETH Zurich, and will stay in the train station until September 2009.

More details and pictures on my Flickr, and on the media architecture blog.



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