pixels             …everywhere.

Digital Light…. towards a definition

by on Jun.29, 2011, under musings

It’s difficult to define digital light. It’s sort of  “I know it when I see it”.  But I think we need a starting point —  to get the discussion going at least.

Ordinary lighting illuminates small surfaces and large surfaces. Digital light does, too. But digital light illuminates the environment in a more controlled way. It uses points of light — pixels– to shape and reshape what we see: its color, intensity, form. Because of this pinpoint control, digital light can create new forms of art, new kinds of information, and, ultimately, new ways to interact with each other.

And the scope of digital light isn’t limited to illuminating surfaces. Sometimes the surfaces themselves emit light as pixels or reflect light as pixels. I don’t mean ordinary monitors or digital signs — I mean surfaces where the pixels are part of the environment itself.

Some examples might help. In an earlier post, I showed how a picoprojector could be a flashlight. In another post, I gave an example of projection mapping. In both examples, digital light illuminates the environment as pixels.

A different example is Onskebronn by Phase7.de — where people walk on a floor that emits light (in this case using LED panels).

So  digital light pixelizes the environment — and that is the core of the definition. Tiny pixels, big pixels, but always pixels. On the walls around us. On our desks. Even on our clothing — these surfaces will all become canvases to draw upon. Pixels everywhere.

Comments? What do you think?

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Matthew Ward

    I love this topic and have been playing with it since I started trying to get LED manufacturers to make me ultra low resolution pixels in the late 90’s. I had a similar feeling when I saw the first viable pico projector.

    Right now I just call it light. We are looking at the collapse of video and lighting into a continuum. And I think we will end up with Smart Lights … mostly for lack of a better work. But as Smart Phones will eventually be phones again we will also get back to Smart Lights just being lights.

    We started talking about this in some MicroTile suite .. probably in Vegas. Look forward to following the blog.

  • brushby

    Hi Matthew. Nice to hear from you. It was Vegas where we spoke.

    Yes, the continuum is starting to emerge. Running with your comment about phones, digital cameras are now just cameras. Digital light will soon be simply called light, as you point out.

    I’ll be doing some posts about what ‘smartness’ is doing and can do for (digital) light. I’m interested in your ideas.
    best regards, Bob

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