On digitization and small stuff

Walking to school I was reading a magazine on “small tokyo” as part of a series of pieces on measuring the immeasurable. This perspective was incredibly exiting and the magazine riveting. Proud of my find and compelled to share I showed the magazine to my roommate, Will. He answered with a respectful nod extended his arm opened the book and said “Hmm, these images aren’t so high-res.”

Curious and surprised by his response (I expected a “Oh wow cool, did you see this bar on that page?!”) I took a closer look and noticed that the images weren’t so high-res indeed.

A little later in the day, as I read a little more, the magazine, made of type, photos, patterns, colors, paper suddenly turned into a see of pixels.


Aren’t pixels like atoms? Or, no, wait, pixels should be molecules and atoms bytes… I’m sure my analogy can use some fine tuning, nonetheless the result is the same, I noticed the pixels but then when do I ever notice the molecules?

Taking the concept of HIGH-RES further, the quality of the “structural molecular integrity” of a good (food, medication)  is often hidden under a few layers of “dumb-ification”  using trendy terms such as “bio,” “healthy” etc.

However we often speak of the resolution of a screen, of the HD TV the neighbor has, of the pixelation of that Facebook photo. Where I realize I may be biased is that I come from a design background, one where teachers “call you out” on lost pixels and poor image quality. And, actually, I know I may not pay much attention to food I eat but it’s true that many of my friends speak in gluttons, proteins and such.

So maybe as a society, without realizing it, many of us (in the US?) are moving towards a systemic understanding of our actions? SHIVERS. By systemic I mean an ability to view and understand our surroundings as a series of cohabiting, cross-linked parts that influence each other. Hmm, feel free to comment, because I will stop (discussing our ability to better understand our world at a micro-scale) here, my intentions for this post were elsewhere.


To be honest I simply wanted to praise quickly the digital world. If I were to skip back to the HIGH-REZ concept, I find it mind-blowing to think that infinity more or less, lays between the pixels on my screen and the interface they draw so I can interact with them. This term a lot of my work has drawn me towards the world of ceramics and its breadth of abilities from pots to insulation to homes to highly complex nano-applications.

In that sense I feel like ceramics is to the natural world what pixels are to the digital world (notice I did not compare them as real and virtual). They are ONE way to sense, translate, express and appreciate those worlds and both have their limitations but they can be incredibly ubiquitous and approachable as they can be used in the most obscure schemes.

The next step is to wonder what pixels can learn from ceramics and vice-versa. If this comparison sends shivers down your spine because you think the tactility of clay can never be reached by the pixel, I would agree but also encourage you to imagine that perhaps the absence of tactility of the pixel is equally as powerful as the contact with clay.

In other words, the tangible qualities of nature which one can sense through clay is mirrored by the intangible quality of the virtual world and its pixels.

I apologize in advance for the sentence which follows, but speaking in such lyrical terms just gets me too exited not to use them.

Grasping the perceptual dialectic opposing these two worlds and how they affect us as beings within a society (or the pixels of a screen) has slowly become the core of my design work.

In the image, I am showing a little insight into my current work where the wind is abstracted into a form and pattern generator for the digital world using this interface and then creating tangible plaster positives to make molds from… I’ll post about it soon.



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