New San Diego Airport Car Rental Center

San Diego International Airport recently unveiled a 1,600-foot long digital installation bringing what they term, "living, breathing" art to the facade of the new rental car center. The permanent art installation titled DAZZLE is an art piece transforming the 1,200-foot long façade of the new airport rental car center into a landmark mural. Dazzle camouflage was a type of ship camouflage used in World War I and developed by Norman Wilkinson. The bold graphic elements will be seen daily by hundreds of thousands of motorists on the adjacent Interstate 5 Freeway, but apparently will be passive and not give off any light pollution.

According to Ueberall, the company that designed the installation, the inspiration came from a fool-the-eye camouflage technique known as "Dazzle Painting" that altered the enemy's perception of WWI Allies' ships technique. Taking its cue from the stripes on a zebra, the idea is not to hide but to confuse by scrambling an object's outlines using parallel lines and geometric shapes. Just as a predator is challenged from a distance to pick out an individual zebra from the herd to attack, an attacker would have trouble discerning the outlines of an individual battleship to target. We're not quite sure what the heck that has to do with car rentals, but it's pretty cool nonetheless, even if we already have enough trouble finding our rental car in a parking lot with a herd of other Altimas.

The physical components of DAZZLE include e-Paper tiles, wireless transmitters, and a host computer. The e-Paper tiles are designed in a parallelogram shape and arranged in algorithmic distances to create an overall dynamic visual effect, even when the pixels are still. Each tile is integrated with a solar cell for power, electronics for operation, and wireless communication to create each unique animation developed by the artists. The animations can evoke water ripples, moving traffic, dancing snowflakes or shifting geometries. E-Ink technology is essentially what a Kindle e-reader uses, and "Dazzle" would be the first time e-paper has been employed on an architectural scale.


Preparation of the tiles.


Placing the E Ink Prism™ material.

The $875,000 project was funded under the airport's public art program by a 2% distribution of the rental center's construction costs, which basically means that you as the traveler are paying for it through those often egregious taxes and fees that are assessed on every airport rental. In short, you paid for it, so you might as well enjoy it!

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