PIXINESS: The colour suits you

February 23, 2011

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PIXINESS opens a window on Quebec's ingenuity in the field of digital art. The new interactive facade of Montreal's Society for Arts and Technology (SAT), created by world-renowned Montreal designer Axel Morgenthaler, lights up the Main with twelve rotating, motorized prisms, each eighteen metres long. For Sebastian Dallaire, industrial designer for the project, the challenge was considerable. "There's motors on only one side, the prisms have to be ultra-rigid so they don't twist and deform. It might seems pretty dry and technical, but it was essential to making Axel's work fluid and elegant."


Axel Morgenthaler in front of PIXINESS Photo credit | Dominic Paquin
A team of twelve technicians and artists spent two years bringing this artwork to life. Like a clock, it strikes every quarter-hour by creating a new visual atmosphere of colour, accentuated by movement and mirrors. Only the curious few equipped with an iPhone are able to fully appreciate the interactive potential of PIXINESS. An app developed by the SAT lets passersby take control of Axel Morgenthaler's creation, and with a simple swipe of your finger the colours shift and transform in front of you. For 90 seconds, the fresco of light becomes your own work of art.

The interactive possibilities of the luminous wall are numerous, and the SAT plans to take advantage of them all. Tourists won't be limited to mere passive contemplation -- a visit to Montreal is now a participatory experience. For its first event, PIXINESS is becoming PIXIMON for the first time at the All-Nighter on Saturday, February 26. On that night, those with iPhones can download a special app created by Etienne Grenier and Mathieu Jacques and journey back into their childhood: the classic 80's game Simon is coming back in a big way, lit up across the creation of Axel Morgenthaler. Memorizing and recreating a series of sounds and colors, players can even face off and compete against one another.

In the coming years, PIXINESS will keep morphing through the creativity of light artists -- a creativity that is all Quebec's. "There's certainly some little parts that were made in China, how could there not be, but the expertise and the manufacture of the custom pieces is all the work of Quebec firms", says Sébastien Dallaire with pride.

By Charles-Éric Blais-Poulin