During last semester’s class “Printed Electronics: Squeegee, brush, and multimeter”, offered by the Interface Design Group, we explored the technical and artistic possibilities of screen printing. All participants first printed an individual two colour poster design relating to the topic of Art and Technology. By making use of printed electronics, an electroluminescent shape is created on the posters. When a voltage is applied, the shape will light up, serving as a flexible lamp. During our working sessions in the facilities of the Interface Design Group we concentrated on the aspects of printed electronics. To explore the artistic possibilities of screen printing we had the opportunity of visiting the screen print workshop at Gerberstraße, led by Adrian Palko and Max Roßner, for an excurision.

Electroluminescence works like a capacitor, two electrodes are seperated by a dielectric, producing an electromagnetic field. Inbetween the two electrodes lies a layer of phosphor. When an alternating current is applied, it causes the electrodes within the phosphor to move, when they fall back into their original state, the phosphor actively emit light. The four layers that are needed to create electroluminescence can be printed with screen printing using special inks. The bottom electrode is printed with a conductive ink containing silver particles. A dielectric ink seperates the electrodes. The layer that emits light is printed with an ink which contains phosphor particles. It is of pink colour but will create a blue light. The top layer is printed using a different type of conductive ink. This layer is translusive enabling the light to shine through. All of the inks used in the process were kindly provided to us by InnovationLab Heidelberg.

The term Serigraphy was coined by Anthony Velonis and Richard Floethe, a former Bauhaus student, of the Federal Art Project in New York in the late 1930ies. It is not a seperate technique, but simply a label for the use of screen printing for artistic purposes. Many artists have explored screen printing during the last 100 years, among them are Bauhaus Masters Josef and Anni Albers, or pop artists like Andy Warhol and Corita Kent. During the course of this class, we intended to combine serigraphy and printed electronics.