Networks of Knowledge

No-one driving along the Campus Boulevard in Aachen can fail to notice the two new, radiant landmarks which embellish the Fraunhofer Institue for Production Technology IPT and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT:

The artist Annette Sauermann created the two network graphics for two areas of glass measuring approximately 156 m². The graphics, which change continuously, are animated via a system comprising 6560 individual LED modules in chains with an overall length of 410 m.

Data traffic sets the scene

"The impulses for the form and color of the light come from the Fraunhofer Institutes themselves", explains Annette Sauermann. "The artworks radiate such vibrancy because they reflect the intensity of the data traffic at any given moment in the computer networks within the institutes. Even the selection of the light scenes is controlled by data traffic. This means that the internal activities of those in the institute are visible in abstract form to those outside." The more information is exchanged electronically in the institutes in one day, the more brightly and more dynamically the "Knowledge Networks" will radiate light.

The artist made a conscious decision to focus on the topic of networks: Fraunhofer employees network among themselves – across institutes and with partners from industry and research. In so doing, they create a web of connections which is in a constant state of flux.

In the eye of the onlooker, the "Building Art", a pulsating and vibrant image incorporating light, color and shape, conjures up the notion of laser beams and the movement characteristics of material removal and grinding processes on one hand, whilst on the other, it is reminiscent of a neural network. The glass surfaces of the facades have been treated in such a way as to ensure that the graphics continue to be impressive even when it is no longer dark: even in daylight the play between sunlight and shade produces a continuous flow of changing images.

Light is not only the subject originally explored by Joseph von Fraunhofer, the namesake of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. It also stands for the two Aachen institutes at the center of a number of research projects and collaborative industrial ventures - and now leads the way for visitors and guests to the RWTH Aachen campus.

Technology meets art: opening celebration of the "Networks of Knowledge"

© Fraunhofer IPT

Left to right: Prof. Reinhart Poprawe (head of the Fraunhofer ILT), Dr. Brigitte Franzen (director of the Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen), artist Anette Sauermann and Prof. Fritz Klocke (head of Fraunhofer IPT).,Technologie trifft Kunst: Feierliche Eröffnung der "Netzwerke des Wissens" – v.l.n.r. Prof. Reinhart Poprawe (Institutsleiter Fraunhofer ILT), Dr. Brigitte Franzen (Direktorium des Aachener Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst), Künstlerin Annette Sauermann und Prof. Fritz Klocke (Institutsleiter Fraunhofer IPT),Technologie trifft Kunst: Feierliche Eröffnung der "Netzwerke des Wissens" – v.l.n.r. Prof. Reinhart Poprawe (Institutsleiter Fraunhofer ILT), Dr. Brigitte Franzen (Direktorium des Aachener Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst), Künstlerin Annette Sauermann und Prof. Fritz Klocke (Institutsleiter Fraunhofer IPT)

The two light installations were formally unveiled 25 February 2015 as part of the third Aachen conference on turbomachinery in front of 200 invited guests, conference visitors and employees of the two institutes.