The Pixel

| Carol Liao

Pixels are at the core of all digital imaging, and often considered as a technical piece of a larger composition. But the pixel itself packs a lot of punch on its own, and can easily fill a spotlight.

While we were designing our hundreds of 32 x 32px action icons, we focused a lot on pixel perfection. This involved not only learning more about the pixel in a technical aspect, but also really getting to know the pixel in all its interpretations. We looked to artists and technologists for inspiration and found a truly incredible spectrum of this tiny building block being manifested in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes.

We’re nearing the end of our Kickstarter and need your help for the final push! Head over to to get a custom icon designed, an awesome poster, or a kickass sticker set! All while simultaneously helping to bring pixel perfect action icons free to the world.

Here are a few pixels that inspired our action icon making.

Jonas Vorwerk’s Pixels 2.0

Dutch multi-media designer Jonas Vorwerk created interactive pixels for the real world. These bright colorful blocks give participants the ability to create their own pixel compositions in a three dimensional space. Sensors enable people to rotate the pixel to change its color and intensity. Vorwerk’s pixels have been exhibited as a Pixelwall in Rotterdam’s Image Festival and at Mutesounds on the beach in the Hague. Watch the video from Imagine 2012.

Space Invader

A pixel post wouldn‘t be complete without mentioning French street artist, Invader. He is best known for his mosaic versions of 1980’s 8-bit video game characters, which he creates out of square ceramic tiles and cementing them around the world. We’ve seen these pixel creatures throughout Amsterdam, but they’ve appeared in over 60 cities since the conception of the project in 1998. Invader has documented certain invasions in the form of “invasion maps”, where he records where and how the invasion happened, and distributes them online and around the city. Has your city been invaded?

Pixels by Patrick Jean

Speaking of pixels invading, this short film is still as inspiring as it was when it was released four years ago. The playful story and and clever integration of real versus pixel make this oldie a goodie worth sharing. In fact, it even inspired us to take a quick break to make a few 3D printed pixels to have fun with. You can see the results featured in this post’s header image. Watch the 8-bit invasion of New York.

Time Spent That Might Otherwise Be Forgotten

Another way of bringing pixels into the analog world. The 8-bit pixel patches embroidered onto photographs brings a whole conversation about nostalgia and memory preservation into light. But even without the deep commentary behind the series, it stands well as a beautiful mixed media piece. See Diane Meyer’s collection.

Hardcoded Memory

A similar concept developed by Trokia also explores the idea of memory preservation. In their mechanical projector made of Swarovski crystal lenses and LEDs, they reflect on “the human search for meaning and continuity, while celebrating forgetting in the digital age”. See the installation.

Retina Displays’ Pixel Density

Matt Conway (a friend of The Artificial) delves into the meaning and technicalities of “retina" displays and shows that even insanely low density displays such as 1.56 PPI can qualify. Read more about retina screens.

Meer inspiratie volgende week! (More inspiration next week!)