People as pixels

An experiment carried out by John Maeda at MIT (Computational Media Design Course) in 1996. Described in his book Creative Code (p.216):

As a continuation of the collaborative coding process, we attempted an experiment to better understand visual design on the computer. In the atrium of the Media Lab, we rigged up a camera on the fourth floor pointing downward; in the lower lobby, we projected the image seen from above so that the students (as pixels) could see themselves. The idea was that each student took charge and “programmed” the pixels, whether by script or direct commands.

Maeda mentions the source of this idea:

My inspiration for this experiment was a Bauhaus story of an old Master taking his students to the gymnasium to walk on the paths of large circles to graps the form’s essence.


24-hour video time capsule

The participants will collectively create a continuous 24-hour video recording. This recording will be a “time capsule” documenting a day and night in their chosen surrounding (city). The video should ideally never cut. It should be a nearly continuous stream. The participants will have to:

  • Form small groups that are in charge of a certain time segment of the 24 hours.
  • Organise the logistics for transport, food, sleep, electricity, charging batteries.
  • Plan events, encounters, visits, discussions, micro-performances… for their segment.

Background: the idea for this brief comes from an audio project I did in 2002, when I produced a 24-hour audio recording, using two minidisk recorders. Nearly 20 years later, such a project can be done in video!

Equipment: the best currently available technology for immersive video recording should be used. In 2020, this is probably “360 degree video”. An interesting option would be the Insta360 One X, a standalone 360 camera, selling for $400 USD. The storage capacity needed, if filming at 4K@30fps resolution, according to camera specs, would be 615 GB – that’s 3 x 256GB SD cards, selling currently for ca $75 (for example SanDisk 256GB Extreme PRO).