AN ULTRA LOW RESOLUTION APPARATUS
Pixels is a series of ultra-low resolution film sequences. Reduced to a small number of pixels, these sequences look like enigmatic light patterns, moving constellations or animated calligrammes, which the viewer is instinctively challenged to decipher.
In this age of high definition and pixel inflation, in which mass market digital cameras display tens of millions of pixels, I figured a jolt in reverse was in order. So I decided to create “ultra-low resolution” screens with a 10 x 6 pixel matrix. This is approximately the resolution used to define the basic icons for a computer’s graphic interface, such as the white arrow cursor, for example. The pixels are generated by lightboxes containing LEDs of variable intensity. This highly reduced resolution “scrambles” the images displayed. The resultant rarefaction, the near-disappearance of readily legible signs, turns the viewing into a borderline experience of the limits of visual perception.
This series of film sequences probes the very process of straining to work out what it is one is really watching. In other words, Pixels casts the viewer as a decoder/detective, whose task is to make out the shapes and action unfolding on the screen. To do so, the viewer has to carry out a perceptual process that is the very opposite of the sleuthing photographer’s approach in Antonioni’s film Blowup : instead of progressively enlarging the picture, the viewer has to mentally step back, zoom out and compensate for the extreme stylization of the information presented by making a mental effort to put it in perspective. Just as modern military intelligence services interpret visual data from reconnaissance software, the viewer memorizes, sorts, compares, and seeks to identify the figures and action in the graphic patterns displayed so as to make out the situation suggested by the title of the film. He is aided in his detective work by the supplementary information provided by the soundtrack.
So the ultra-low resolution images deliberately titillate the viewer’s curiosity, appealing to the essential voyeur inside each and every one of us that eggs us on and rewards us for our painstaking decoding and detection efforts.