Nicholas Hanna, an installation and media artist working in Beijing, premiered his water calligraphy device during Beijing Design Week this month. Mounted on a tricycle, the device mimics the Chinese performing art of writing calligraphy on the ground with water. This device allows the rider to “print” a temporary water message on the road while riding along on a tricycle. The laptop strapped to the handlebars is where the rider inputs the message to be printed on the road. The typed characters then are transmitted to a set of valves that control the water drops in a programmed pattern when the tricycle moves forward.
Tricycles with a cargo trailer are a commonly found transportation mode in China. Hanna confesses that the calligraphy his device produces is not as graceful as the handwritten pieces he has seen on sidewalks. Nonetheless, the tricycle has captured great public attention in Beijing. It was commented as “a combination of the inherent beauty of an ancient writing form, the elegance of public art practice and the mystery and magic of mechanisms.” More details can be found here and here.