Pixel power at Basil2010

A reinterpretation of the pixel creates a new, modular and tangible lighting system.

“Six-Forty by Four-Eighty” is an interactive lighting installation that aims to connect our physical bodies with a bit of pure information, the common pixel.

Created by two MIT Media Lab students, Jamie Zigelbaum and Marcelo Coehlo, for Design Miami/Basel 2010, the installation is a light system with 220 magnetic pixel tiles in a darkened room. Each pixel tile can be touched, moved or modified and changes colour when it does. The installation starts off with all the pixel-tiles packed together but by the end of it, the tiles would have all migrated across the walls in the room. “By transporting the pixel from the confines of the screen and into the physical world, focus is drawn to the materiality of computation itself and new forms of design emerge,” explain Zigelbaum and Coehlo.

Touching two of the pixel-tiles simultaneously lets a current pass through the user’s skin, creating a synchronizing effect and displaying a dynamic light pattern. On a personal level the pixel-tiles were designed to interact with our bodies, allowing us to manipulate them by changing their location and colour.

The pixel-tiles can also be manipulated on a larger scale to create interactive light patterns across multiple pixels. The applications for the installation are endless, says Zigelbaum and Coehlo. “Gather a bunch of pixel-tiles and spread them on a wall for localised illumination; paint a message for a friend; or change the mood in a social space.”