A Wall Of Tiny Fans That Blow Only When You Draw Near

On a hot day, a fan can be indispensable. Two fans might even be better. But when you’re talking about 400 of the things, you’re about 395 past the realm of utility–and apparently somewhere very near the realm of art.

All those fans, give or take a few dozen, make up Daan Roosegaarde’s Flow 5.0, a piece that takes the form of a massive, freestanding black wall. Flow was recently acquired by 21c, a chain of hybrid contemporary art museums and boutique hotels, for its outpost in Bentonville, Arkansas. It certainly makes for a more interesting lobby than a fountain.

Of course, when you’ve got just one fan, there’s a certain art to getting the most out of it. Here, with breeze in abundance, the art is in the opposite. Built-in sensors only trigger the fans that viewers are standing in front of, creating personalized gusts that respond to movement across the wall’s face. When no one’s nearby, the fans turn on and off automatically, creating a series of patterns and occasionally spelling out the word “AIR” (which seems a little on the nose, but whatever).

As the name suggests, this is merely the latest and greatest version of the work. Roosegaarde won the Dutch Design Award with an earlier iteration in 2009. And while the hotel plans to keep it permanently installed in a certain corner of the building, I can’t help but wonder if a poolside location would’ve been a better idea. With some tweaks–and maybe a few high-powered micro motors–you could be looking at the Dyson bath towel.

See more of Roosegaarde’s work here.KV