Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Artist's trike prints Chinese calligraphy on the ground, using water


October 7, 2011

Artist Nicholas Hanna has created a cargo tricycle-based system that prints Chinese calligraphy on the road, in water

Artist Nicholas Hanna has created a cargo tricycle-based system that prints Chinese calligraphy on the road, in water

Image Gallery (12 images)

When Canadian media artist Nicholas Hanna first moved to the Chinese city of Beijing, he was quite taken with the water calligraphy that he saw people creating in the parks. The art form consists of using a large brush to paint Chinese calligraphy on the road, in water, so the characters disappear as the water evaporates. Hanna decided to put his own spin on it, and rigged up a cargo tricycle with a computer-controlled dot matrix water release system, that squirts out passages of Chinese poetry on the road behind him as he rides.

Cargo trikes like Hanna's are ubiquitous in Beijing, so the vehicle itself is as much an ode to Chinese culture as the poetry that it prints.

Mounted in the trike's rear cargo bed are two large plastic water jugs, which are connected through a complex arrangement of hoses and electronics to a line of 16 solenoid valves, located just inches above the surface of the road. Poems written in Chinese calligraphy are entered into a handlebar-mounted computer, which converts the characters into a dot matrix. That data is fed to the electronics system in the back, which selectively activates different solenoid valves as the tricycle moves forward, recreating the characters in droplets of water on the road.

Hanna pedaled his Water Calligraphy Device around Beijing's Dashilar district as part of Bejing Design Week, which took place from September 24th to October 3rd. "The reception at BJDW was extremely positive," he told us. "People were really intrigued and the local residents think it's wacky and hilarious."

You can see the device in action, in the video below.

Source: Designboom

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Great job. I can see a more advanced system being used for advertising... In color like writing with chalk that washes away when it rains.

Michael Taylor

I can see the advertising potential in this, as trikes (or eventually, tanker trucks) cover roads and highways with printed, ephemeral messages of \"Drink Coca-Cola\", \"Just Do It\" or even \"Free Tibet\". Ephemeral advertising, catch it while it lasts...


Old news. People have made systems like this for bikes for years. It\'s nothing more than a ground-based version of skytyping.


He could have just used 1 moving solenoid - mounting it on a horizonatally rotating wheel or lateral reciprocating conveyor or horizontal caterpillar track or something - but wahtever - hyper cool !


re; migigawa

Think big. FREE CHINA!


re; migigawa

Think big. FREE CHINA!


I get where he\'s coming from, but still, it\'s like... \"I saw these Chinese people practicing this beautiful, contemplative, traditional art, and I thought it would be neat to build a crude automated device that creates an ugly version of that. You know, to mock them.\"

I hope that next he\'ll go to France and see street mimes and invent a crude and ugly robot that walks against the wind and gets trapped in an invisible box.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles