Hogtown Consulting

technology for experience

Too Many Pixels

I’ve been thinking about technology art projects and installations a lot recently, what makes for a good experience and what falls flat. This is what I’ve come up with, there are just too many pixels.

Of course pixels are wonderful things. They make digital data (also great) into something we can see and understand. So what’s my problem? The problem, I think, lies in the ubiquity of pixels which has led us to become very difficult to impress with things pixel based. At least that’s my working theory.

I formed this idea while exploring Toronto’s Nuit Blanche at 6am Sunday morning, which may say something about the strength of my idea. Two installations I saw that early morning illustrated this pixel problem.

On the surface the two pieces, Overflow by Michel de Broin and Purified by Fire by Matthew Suib, have many similarities. They’re both about elemental forces, water and fire, and the both centre around the windows of an otherwise ordinary building. However my experience of the two was very different, I stood quietly and watched the waterfall in Overflow for several minutes but only glanced at the projected flames of Purified for a few seconds before moving on.

Of course these reactions are only mine and there may be many factors to explain why one piece really resonated with me while the second didn’t. But I think it’s that pixel thing, the flames were nicely rendered and well projected but they were still just pixels and not really fire. The stream of water falling from a second story window was real though, and I think it was the physical reality that made this piece work for me.

I plan on putting this theory to the test in a few projects I’m working on. Hopefully more to come soon.

Photo credits: pgleonard and basic_sounds

Written by Patrick Dinnen

October 6th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

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