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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Capability – what does it do? HypoSurface systems are very versatile in being a base media technology: it permits graphic media to be generated and deployed such as text and logos (subject to the technical resolution of the system); it suits patterns and reliefs of all sorts (waves, graphics etc.); high-quality lighting (programmable stage lights) enormously enhance it as a display medium, and change its mood dramatically; sound is incredibly important as a compliment to the physical movement, and the nature of the sound utterly changes the affect of HypoSurface – harps and birdsong, for instance, make it light and fairytale-like, where percussive or mechanical noises can make it powerful and robotic. There is possibility to overlay video onto movement, which should offer quite dramatic possibilities to enhance content. This needs doing via our User Interface since the video needs distorting and shading to match the movement (otherwise it ‘flattens’ it). Of all the affects available, we think it is interactivity that is most powerful: it is when an audience realize that their movement, sound, iPhone are linked to the powerful surface movement that HypoSurface comes into its own as a participatory medium. We can advise on how such interactivity might best be devised for a given event based on our experience; but it is for our clients to try different ways to make HypoSurface effective – it’s a brand new canvas!

What are the minimum and maximum sizes of HypoSurface? The HypoSurface modules are 1 metre x 2 metres. A practical minimum is 4m x 4m or 2m x 8m display; and a practical maximum is a 12m x 4m display. As a modular system, there is some flexibility of arrangement (but check with us). If you want other sizes it is no problem as the control software is also modular. The structural frame we typically use lifts HypoSurface off the ground by 50cm. But it can sit on the floor directly at 4m.

How much does HypoSurface cost? Rental pricing varies upon complexity and duration of an event. Typically it ranges from €150K - €200K as a turnkey project. A single event is a significant logistical operation. Multiple events make it easier and relatively cheaper, since content can be re-used and local staff will take over operations once instructed by our technicians. For permanent installations, clients can purchase a custom made HypoSurface; price on application.


How is the ‘content’ provided? We usually create sound and movement content for high-end events to tailor it to a particular client’s needs. Mark Goulthorpe, the founder of HypoSurface, is a professor at MIT, Boston. Mark leads a team of creative experts including; - digital composers, - interactivity artists, - programmers, - mathematicians - robotic engineers

We enjoy technical challenges! For simpler events, or immediate events, we typically use our existing interfaces and content, which are versatile and effective. Clients’ own creative teams can create content themselves, in standard formats, but they need to be sensitive to the technical needs of the new medium. Allow time to test content and see what works best. It always helps to understand what a client wants to communicate, and what degree of audience participation is anticipated. Certainly, the most alluring aspect of HypoSurface to audiences has been its interactive capacity, where microphone, smart phones and cameras provide input. As soon as people realize they’re triggering the sound/movement content, then you have a captive audience. It’s great to see! This can be switched off if you prefer to just deliver prescribed content. If you can describe how you see HypoSurface working in your event/application, then it will help us to outline our staff requirement both before and during the event. It also helps to know who the client is, which we would treat with the utmost confidentiality, if required. We’ve typically had a small team at every event, but we’ve not staffed it 24/7. Lighting and sound systems have sometimes been provided by the client, preferring to rent them locally; but we prefer to provide these so we know the system well.

Can it be used outdoors? HypoSurface is really intended for indoor use, but the components are all-weather: the control circuits are in weatherproof protective boxes. Talk with us and we will find an outdoor solution that suits your particular requirements.

What are the lead times, installation and breakdown periods? Typically we ask for 2-3 months prior to an event to be able to prepare sound and movement content to suit an event (we can do it faster, but it’s much better if we have some time to work with a client’s creative team on this). We allow 1 day set-up, 1 day testing, and 1 day demounting: HypoSurface is a kit of parts that is a simple plugand-play system.


Installation requirements? We work with installation teams hired locally by the client (“roadies”). HypoSurface requires 3 or 4 semi-skilled ‘roadies’ with a forklift and basic toolkit – it is a simple placement and attachment of modules (minimum 2 men). We usually send a technical manager to supervise installation. In addition 2-3 technicians are provided for the duration of an event to operate and maintain the installation. The current rental system requires a large compressor to operate, which can be diesel or electrical, and this can be placed distant from the event, linked by a 4" pipe. For short-term events we typically use a generator to supplement electrical power (if necessary) at a venue, and rent this locally. We often rent stage lights and sound systems locally. For permanent installation, or long-term events, an electromagnetic system would be provided. The base building or space that the HypoSurface is to be mounted in needs to be structurally sufficient to take its weight and the dynamic loading it creates. Some upper story venues, or buildings with light structure (such as a wooden stage) should check with us to verify that it is able to take this loading. Often a local engineer should be consulted to verify that there is sufficient structural capacity. Doorways & ceilings need to allow access with forklift. In practice, we have typically used HypoSurface on a ground floor concrete slab. We can provide a braced structure that attaches to the ground via bolts. The larger the HypoSurface the greater the weight and the greater the lateral load caused by the moving parts. Above a certain height (4m maximum) it needs attaching back to the base building structure.

What are the Control systems? Once designed by our team of experts and approved by our client, we provide a Control System that runs the HypoSurface system. There is typically one computer that directs movement, and one that controls sound and lighting, each with a keyboard, mouse and screen (Macs). The User Interface is relatively straightforward, and with some instruction it can be operated by relatively unskilled people. Movement content can be generated directly using this User Interface, and sound files can also be added, permitting a client to generate an event quasi-independently.

Shipping The HypoSurface system has shipped internationally several times: it fits into a standard 40ft shipping container. This allows a 12m x 4m HypoSurface display system with its own structural support, control system and accessories.


Can we rent or lease a HypoSurface Display? Yes, so long as we have inventory to suit your needs. We typically lease HypoSurface systems for short or medium periods. We usually sell systems for long-term use.

We are interested in becoming a distributor/agent in our country – is this opportunity available? We are open to having local distributors and marketing agents in different international regions.

Can it be operated by someone local (ie. not a specialist from HypoSurface)? We typically send one or more technicians to set up HypoSurface the first time; they are able to then instruct local staff to operate and maintain HypoSurface. Such training typically occurs before and during the first event, allowing local staff to experience the full range of operation and technical needs. We also provide handbooks and technical support online and by telephone.

How would a permanent installation receive maintenance / servicing? We establish maintenance contracts (or the client takes on this responsibility), with a local company assigned to inspect and repair any worn parts. There is a 2 year warranty on the components from the various suppliers of the parts, all robust industrial components from reliable large manufacturing groups.

How often would it need maintenance? The HypoSurface system has been designed to require minimal maintenance, but with thousands of moving parts it does need care.


HypoSurface FAQs