We all spend a considerable amount of time these days staring at cathode ray tube or LCD displays. But these are far from the only ways in which images can be created by stacking single points of light both vertically and horizontally to convey information. Here is my top 5 of alternative, off-beat forms of pixel displays:
5. The countdown to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is the first example of a human-based pixel display. It was performed by an army (literally) of drummers, the drums being illuminated whenever a drummer would hit it thus yielding a gigantic ‘screen’ made up of numerous ‘drum pixels’. The real countdown begins around 2:30 in.
4. The German hacker club CCC is responsible for the following installation named Blinkenlights (see here for a pretty funny etymology of the term). They simply took an office building in Berlin and wired up the light switches in all rooms with windows to one side of the building to a central controller. This gave them the ability to switch single windows (i.e. pixels) on and off in a coordinated fashion. Most of the time the building would just show various artwork, but one could also call in at a particular number and play the old arcade classic Pong on the building using the cellphone’s keyboard
3. The (comparatively) little one is gonna love this: third place goes to UC Berkeley’s marching band whose human pixel display shows all sorts of classic video games. Tetris, Pong, Super Mario – they are all there. Nerds!
2. An array of water jets that releases spurts of water so as to form geometric shapes, words and banners makes second place. Kind of trippy, even when completely sober.
I actually saw such an installation in Vienna a couple of months ago in which case the display seemed to grab entries from some RSS newsfeed and printed out the headlines in water (via nerdcore)
1. First place, by a wide margin, goes to North Korea whose use of perfectly orchestrated mass games in stadiums – each of the carefully selected ‘spectators’ holding up colored sheets of paper to yield a large image – is as impressive as it is eerie.