You’ve seen them: the motorized pieces of art that lower over flat-panel TVs and front projection screens to conceal them when they’re not in use. This concept has been around for some time, and it’s still as popular as ever. But now there’s a completely new way to combine art with a video display as demonstrated at CES by German manufacturer Image Screens.
The Image artMasque doesn’t actually hide a screen; it is the screen. In fact, it can be designed to function as two different types of screens—or three—, as well as a piece of art that can be wall mounted to cover—but without muffling—a set of in-wall speakers.
Confused? As Image Screens managing director Michael Liesenfeld explains, the artMasque is one solid piece of fabric. One portion of the fabric can be printed with a homeowner’s chosen piece of art. The top portion of the screen can be of a polarized acoustically transparent surface designed expressly for 3D viewing, and the bottom portion, a white matte material that’s better for 2D viewing. (Incidentally, Image Screens’ acoustically transparent 3D projection material is the only material of its type on the market.)
The entire surface is motorized and controllable from a handheld remote or a home control system, if you prefer. One press of a button could move the 3D fabric into place, another could shift the fabric so that the 2D portion of the surface appears, and one last press could bring the portion with the artwork back into place. Here’s another unique twist: The screen can be of any size and shape so that the dimensions of your artwork can be exactly as the artist intended it to be.
“The artMasque should follow the aspect ratio of the artwork, not the video because 95 percent of the time, you’ll be looking at the art, not watching a movie,” says Liesenfeld. Even if your chosen art is as panoramic as da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” the artMasque can make the appropriate accommodations. Panels of motorized masking material can slide over the top, bottom and sides of the overly wide screen to alter its proportions a more fitting 16:9 or 2.35:1 movie viewing format . If this isn’t custom enough, the entire assembly can framed in your choice of color, finish and style.
In addition to the innovative artMasque and the groundbreaking acoustically transparent 3D projection screen, Image Screens has also developed an in-wall multi-masking projection screen. With this system, called the iMasque CI, the projection screen is recessed to sit flush with the wall surface. Liesenfeld says if the wall is painted the same color as the screen, the screen is nearly undetectable (when there’s no movie playing on it, of course. A motorized masking system can be integrated so that the dimensions of the screen can be altered to suit the various aspect ratios of today’s popular video formats.
Prices start at around $30,000 for the artMasque and $17,000 for the iMasque CI.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.