When someone brings up silk-screening, you might think of handmade T-shirts or concert posters. What you probably don’t think of is electric current and glowing surfaces. But at the University of Pennsylvania traditional screen-printing and high technology are colliding to create incredible, eye-melting artistic experiments.
Orkan Telhan is an artist and Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at UPenn who works at the intersection of design, engineering, and interactivity. During last month’s visit to the Common Press, Telhan was kind of enough to show us some recent forays into the use of electroluminescent and electrochromic inks.
These are inks that respond to electric current by emitting light and changing opacity, respectively. When silk-screened onto clear plastic sheets, artists can produce gorgeous designs. Throw microcontrollers and sensors into the mix, and the possibilities are endless.
The experiments are simple yet beautiful, and it only takes a little imagination to think of how these technologies can be applied on a larger, more complex scale. There are already companies using these concepts for things like windows that change from see-through to opaque based on the flip of a switch, but it is fascinating to see what artists conjure up, outside of commercial applications.