At the Expo 2012 in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group staged a mind-blowing display using a controller area network (CAN) called mechatronic. This is a message-based protocol originally designed for automotive applications and now also used in areas such as industrial automation and medical equipment. Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix installation was designed by Seoul media arts firm Jonpasang. In just two months, the team built a mammoth three-sided display out of thousands of Styrofoam blocks that could be manipulated like pixels.The 11-inch cubes were driven by 3,375 customized actuators and stepping motors that moved the blocks back and forth according to a specially prescribed program. The high-speed data transfer program constantly reconfigured the cubes to create a mesmerizing show.
Lately Brooklyn -based illustrator and author Andy Rash, who usually draws in a more traditional style, has come out with a series that is a throwback to the crude bitmapped video game art of the 1980s. Rash calls this style “Iotacons” – iota means an extremely small amount. Full body portraits of politicians and pop stars look like they were constructed out of Lego bricks or mosaic tiles. What fascinating is that even distilled down to a few dozen pixels, these figures are recognizable as individuals and as personalities. We can pick out specific members of the U.S. Senate (below), the Supreme Court justices (above), the Allied-Axis leaders of World War II, the Beatles, and all of the Star Wars characters. It’s all very retro and fun, and it reminds us how far digital technology has come since the days when we only had pixelated images to work with.