Giant Flip Machine

Kanazawa Citizen's Art Center, Japan

In 2019 Chee-Kit Lai of Mobile Studio Architects designed a Giant Flip Machine for Kanazawa Citizen’s Art Center, Japan. 

The installation is an international exchange art project as part of the “Japan-UK Season of Culture” 2019/20 supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, British Council “UK in Japan” and The Japan Foundation. It was initially unveiled in October 2020 and followed by a live stream event from Japan in March 2021.

Essentially an oversized flipbook, the system scales up the split-flap display technology as seen in airports and train stations across the world. Mobile Studio Architects first used this technology in an interactive window display for Jack Spade menswear store in London back in 2013. And in 2016 it supersized this technology for an installation at BEAM Camp summer school in New Hampshire, USA.

The giant mechanical flipbook rotates through a sequence of images to generate a simple animation. For the flipbook in Kanazawa, 100 participants in drawing workshops took part to create the animation.

Public participation at a drawing workshop

The animation shows the moment a kingfisher bird dives efficiently into the water to catch fish, a phenomenon that inspired Japanese engineer Eiji Nakatsu to improve the design of the bullet train. As the bird dives into the water it breaks the blank surface of the drawing to create a splash of colours. 

The project reached a much wider audience than originally intended. This was due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Drawings for the flipbook were received not only from local workshops in Kanazawa but also from remote workshops in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagano and London, UK.

Project team in Japan

Action Plan Executive Office of Kanazawa Citizen’s Art Center
Kanazawa Art Promotion and Development Foundation


Project Coordination 
Hiromi Fujii

Masahiro Katano
Hideaki Watanabe

Contract Coordination 
Masahiro Saito

British Council, The Japan Foundation
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Material Support
Kuraray Co., Ltd.
Luci Co., Ltd.

Masafumi Asamoto
Ippei Hayashi
Nobuyasu Kato

Masahiro Katano
Yoshihiro Nakabayashi

Film Footage
Hiromi Fujii
Masahiro Katano
Yoshihiro Nakabayashi
Takuya Okamoto

Archive Book
Edited by Masahiro Katano, Hiromi Fujii, Nachi Nakayama
Translated by Hiromi Fujii
Photography by Masahiro Katano, Yoshihiro Nakabayashi, Ryoichi Noguchi, Hiromi Fujii, Chee-Kit Lai
Published by Action Plan Executive Office of Kanazawa Citizen’s Art Center

Special Thanks
Naomi Shioura

Other films

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