eSea Shanghai 2008

ESEA, is an irregular reef-like wall, 12m long, 2.5m high, made of more than 2000 sheets of individually cut sheets of cardboard. It multiplexes the rhythms of the sun with the ephemeral rhythms of pedestrians, and manifests the result as a pattern of varying LED lights at night. ESEA was presented in Shanghai’s Century Plaza at the E-Arts Festival, October 17-22, 2008.

The wall’s paper substrate holds the inflatable cells in a variety of holes. The substrate is CNC cut corrugated cardboard that allows for different patterns for the holes. Note that not all holes have cells in them. The holes that do not have cells can be used for viewing, peeping, communication etc. The overall result of the various holes can be like the structure of coral.



The architectural design was done in Montreal, Hong Kong and Australia.

The custom electronics was designed by Sha Xin Wei (TML) and Vincent Leclerc and built by ESKI. The CNC (computer-numerically-controlled) manufacturing was done in Shanghai. Media choreography logic was designed and written by Sha, TIm Sutton, JS Rousseau. Supported by the Topological Media Lab.

Photocells rooted inside long tubes atop the wall measured sun’s slow transit across the sky, and ultrasound sensors embedded into the wall measured nearby people’s movement. Logic was coded in Max, and mapped to custom LED control electronics by ESKI.


Peter Haskell, Patrick Harrop, Joshua Bolchover, Architectural design
Sha Xin Wei, Interaction design, Max programming
Vincent Leclerc (ESKI), LED electronics
Tim Sutton, JS Rousseau (TML), Max programming
Dedale studio, and Shanghai eSea, fabrication and assembly