Giant flipbook installed in Kanazawa allows public to mechanically operate an animation

Designed by Chee-Kit Lai of Mobile Studio Architects, the “world’s largest flipbook” displays an animated sequence comprising drawings by 100 participants across Japan and the UK.

30 March 2021

Chee-Kit Lai, founder of Mobile Studio Architects, has created what’s been coined the world’s largest flipbook at Kanazawa Art Center in Japan. Installed in the gallery’s garden, the flipbook essentially scales up the split-flap display technology used in old-school airport departure boards, which visitors can operate via a giant mechanical crank. Turning the crank rotates the book to flip the pages, putting in motion a hand-drawn animated sequence showing a kingfisher bird diving into water.

The illustrated frames of the animation were created by 100 participants in drawing workshops, held locally in Kanazawa and online, with final drawings received from contributors in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagano and London.

The installation is an international exchange art project supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, the British Council’s UK in Japan, 2019-21 project, and The Japan Foundation. It was initially unveiled in October 2020 and followed by a live stream event from Japan in March 2021.

Mobile Studio Architects first used the split-flap technology in 2013 for an interactive window display for Jack Spade, a menswear store in London. Then in 2016, a larger version was used for an installation at BEAM Camp summer school in New Hampshire, USA. This project in Kanazawa sees the mechanism and design developed even further.

The animation depicts the moment a kingfisher bird dives into the water to catch a fish, a sight that is said to have 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.

Watch how the installation was made and see it in action via the film below.

Hero Header

Mobile Studio Architects

Share Article

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.