Nature’s Toolbox: Biodiversity, Art, and Invention Show features Dissipative System by Charles Lee

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Charles Lee, USA

Dissipative System

2011

Digital prints, 23.63 x 31.5 inches

Thermochromatic tile wall installation, 46.5 x 27 inches

Courtesy of the artist and Bios Design Collective

The Dissipative System is a study into possible materials and construction techniques for a new biomimetic building. The house in this illustrated model uses a skin of thermo-chromatic tiles to regulate heat and curved smart solar control glass to regulate light transmission. Glazed ceramic cladding, such as the tiles on display, is used for the interior and exterior of the shell. The coated ceramic becomes lighter in high temperatures to reflect more light and darker in cool temperatures to absorb more heat—a system similarly seen in nature. In many color-changing species, including fishes, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans, temperature influences the distribution of pigment in cells. The resulting darkening or lightening aids heat absorption and reflection to help maintain the animal’s temperature.

The Field Museum text:
“Reptiles change color to control body temperature. The pigment melanin colors the skin of most animals—including humans. Reptiles can expand or contract melanin within individual cells. When melanin expands, skin darkens and absorbs heat; when it contracts, skin lightens and reflects heat. To absorb more heat, snakes flatten their bodies and lie perpendicular to the sun’s rays. At night, they coil tightly to retain heat. (Imagine buildings that change color and shape!)”
— Alan Resetar
Collection Manager,

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles,

The Field Museum

 Go see the show at the Field Museum in Chicago
A special thanks to Randy Rosenberg, Zorona Bosnic and Alesha Colberg Martinez for the support and opportunity
Find out more about Artworks For Change

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