Pixel Mosaic

Serial maker/ inventor Mic Black (pronounced Mike) has a mission to motivate and encourage young people to be the new creators of digital technology.

“I wanted to show kids that in the digital world they’re in, they don’t have to be just consumers; they can create new experiences with the technology they already know and use.”

Inspired by his 12-year-old daughter’s love of art and the prevalence of digital technologies, Mic Black has created Pixel Mosaic, a world first interactive digital art project.

“I wanted to show kids that in the digital world they’re in, they don’t have to be just consumers; they can create new experiences with the technology they already know and use.”

“The idea came about during a conversation with my daughter about why everything we use is digital - we have screens on our phones, TVs, GPS and yet when we do art we have to use a pencil or brush.”

As a result, Mic hopes the Pixel Mosaic project sparks young people to see art differently and imagine the possibilities of what they can create with the technology that’s readily available.

“I feel art is one of the highest pursuits we can work towards, because it doesn’t serve any primal purpose. We work to earn money to feed and clothe ourselves, but art only exists because somebody felt it deserved to exist.

“Because of that, I believe art should be inclusive; to get a community of people to help give kids a creative outlet in the most convenient and relevant way possible, is a truly beautiful thing to create,” he said.

Mic says he created Pixel Mosaic to challenge kids to think about what makes them ‘them’ and question their own internal values of who they are.

“It’s a great question to ask any person as they’re about to go through the life changing events, especially in kids in their tween years, where they can stop and reflect: what makes me happy; if I had to summarise my whole personality in 20 seconds, what would that look like in colour?

“There’s a lot of pressure on kids to ‘be yourself’ but little time is spent on exploring what that really means.”

Mic is a passionate advocate for equal opportunity especially across financial, health and geographical barriers.

Pixel Mosaic is based on the concept of combining the digital aspect of pixels in technology and the traditional form of a mosaic which has multiple tiles assembled together to make pictures and patterns.

“It really has astounded me how far Pixel Mosaic has reached - from children in their hospital beds making art across the other side of the country, to parents who say they have a new way to hear their children’s inner feelings, to farm kids in the middle of nowhere being part of something bigger than their region. You just have to see a child use the app to understand the gravity of this incredibly simple concept.”

Digital art

Pixel Mosaic is based on the concept of combining the digital aspect of pixels in technology and the traditional form of a mosaic which has multiple tiles assembled together to make pictures and patterns.

Using an online app, which features interactive educational content explaining colour theory and creative expression, students mix and create a sequence of colours to represent their personalities and interests. They also include a short story describing why they chose those colours.

More than 460 colour sequences were selected to be transformed into custom-made electronic LED tiles as part of the 4.5m x 2.2m Pixel Mosaic.

A large traditional tile mosaic created by a team of local seniors frames the foot of the electronic mosaic.

“This blending of old and young, traditional and new, shows the origin of the art form and brings mosaic art from our oldest to newest generation,” Mic said.

“An iPad near the mosaic allows viewers to read the children’s stories, providing a direct connection between the artist and the viewer - like 468 didactic artist expressions in one small device.”

“The project is unique as it provides kids who may have little to no experience in creating art to have a representation of themselves exhibited in an art gallery.”​

Mic has designed the Pixel Mosaic hardware to be versatile; it senses and mimics people’s movements, creating a once off display for special occasions, and plays huge scale simple video games created by the students.

“The project is unique as it provides kids who may have little to no experience in creating art to have a representation of themselves exhibited in an art gallery.”

As a world first concept, Pixel Mosaic features:

  • Many people collaborating to create it, rather than a handful of artists

  • It’s a digital mosaic which is an expression of each individual’s personality not the voice of one artist

  • A digital mosaic supported by a traditional mosaic, combining old and new aspects of art.

Supported partly by a Regional Arts Development Fund grant, this collaborative community project is on display at the Caloundra Regional Gallery from 30 January to 15 March 2015.

About Mic Black

Mic Black is a tireless inventor, creative artist and technologist driven to provide new experiences that are approachable and entertaining, yet honest and thought-provoking.

Leveraging off a successful career in software research and development specialising in user experience, Mic admits to a certain child-like wonderment he has when working until late in his ‘lab’ (garage workshop).

Mic says his early days in marketing and design gives him the edge when delivering a concept or motivating a project.

“It has always been about the experience - the show, the presentation and the wow. I want people to come away feeling like they were a part of something special. Like the joy in the first moment the idea is born and becomes a runaway flurry of concepts, I lead all my projects to have motivating experiences every step along the way for everyone involved.”

For more information visit www.pixelmosaic.com.au