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sol.id art installation honours greats in design and discovery

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is honouring four extraordinary people for their inventions in the 20th century with a shimmering projection. The sol.id art installation combines state-of-the-art computer technology with the power of the sun: the sun’s rays are reflected by aluminium plates, bringing the portraits of the four honoured personalities to life.

sol.id
© LGG, EPFL

The installation is centred on two female scientists, a female designer and the father of modern data processing. Eileen Gray is one of the most important icons of the architecture and design of the last 100 years. Marie Curie is the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields, namely physics and chemistry. Tribute is also being paid to biologist Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring triggered the first major environmental debate in the USA in the 1960s. The mathematician and cryptoanalyst Alan Turing saved thousands of lives by decoding German radio messages during World War II, and at the same time created the theoretical basis for computer technology.

As well as for their extraordinary achievements, these four people are being honoured for their courage and assertiveness in an era when women and homosexuals were denied a career. They also represent various fields studied at EPFL.

The installation is located in the courtyard of the Rolex Learning Center, designed by the Japanese architectural firm SANAA, and is open to both the public and the university’s students.


sol.id art installation


The sol.id art installation combines state-of-the-art technology with natural sunlight. Four reflective aluminum plates, each with a surface area of one square meter, were milled using the latest technology in a way so that the reflecting sunlight projects photographic portraits onto the ceiling. Due to the position of the sun, changing minute-by-minute and daily throughout the year, each of the four portraits is only visible in perfect focus twice a year, warping in interesting ways at other times.

The technology used was developed by EPFL’s Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory directed by Prof. Mark Pauly in close collaboration with its spin-off RAYFORM. RAYFORMTM provides a service to integrate this patented technology in luxury products.