Here, at SFXC we are continually amazed by the far reaching and innovative uses and applications for our colour changing products, never more so than when we were approached by The Tate Modern mid last year to tackle a very ambitious and unprecedented application for world-renowned Cuban installation and performance artist Tanya Bruguera, we of course, took up the challenge and for a few months immersed ourselves in the exciting world of modern art!
The challenge was our biggest yet, to produce a colour changing floor for the Tate Moderns' gargantuan turbine hall- all 200,000 square feet of it (gulp!). This was going to take enormous volumes of product and many, many hours of research and military planning. Firstly we had to consider the fact that over the 6 months, that the installation would be seen by an estimated 1 million visitors who would pass through this area of this world class gallery. Not only passing through, but visitors would also be sitting on it, laying on it, touching it, scuffing it, rolling around on it...
This floor had to be tough and hardwearing in the extreme. Not only did we have to think about the long-term durability but we also had to consider the change in temperature from Autumn into Winter how these changes would affect the flooring. From the atmospheric temperatures within the cathedral like void of The Turbine Hall itself to the temperatures within the substrate of the Turbine Hall floor, concrete, cold concrete- our work had only just begun.
We travelled regularly to our amazing capital city of London for research, development and implementation meetings with the wonderful team at The Tate Modern and with Tania Bruguerra, whose brainchild this was. Together we explored several colour changing ideas before finally deciding on Thermochromic, which reacts at a 'touch temperature'.
Back at SFXC headquarters on the sleepy East Sussex coast we began testing, test upon test, late nights and early mornings until finally we have produced a product everyone was in agreement with, a Thermochromic colour changing floor that responded to body temperature. The particular Thermochromic ink we used reacts to a mid range activation. So when heated to the temperature of the body, the ink clears to show what lies underneath it. Tania's idea was to have only one large image to 'reveal' and this would be achieved by people working together as a group using the heat from their bodies.
The floor itself was made from hard wearing interlocking squares, the kind used in air craft hangers and industrial spaces. Next, we had to find a way to print on those tiles, at first we thought of screen printing but luckily we were able to source a large format printer able to deal with applying an image onto the very tiles themselves, it was all coming together nicely! Over the printed image we then applied Thermochromic ink, in this case we chose to use our Thermochromic Sprayable System (available in 7 colours!) for its hardwearing properties. Only in this instance, we applied the ink via rollers. We had a lot of fun tutoring the Tate moderns technical team in the application, so the whole floor was coated with a heavy duty resin top coat which would provide long lasting protection from the months of heavy traffic ahead! Now all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the show!