Thousands of LCD screens and lenses used to create digital artwork
By Stu Robarts
June 16, 2014
A new digital installation has been unveiled in the window of the foyer at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) in Manhattan. The Discovery Wall is a display made up of 2,800 mini LCD screens each placed behind a curved lens, and its content varies depending on the distance from which it's being viewed.
The installation was created by Hirsch & Mann and Squint/Opera. Gizmag featured Hirsch & Mann back in January, when it created the "Joy Jacket" for Cadbury. The garment is powered by embedded Raspberry Pi and Arduino controllers, and flashes when it senses that the wearer is eating one of two Cadbury chocolate bars.
Like the Joy Jacket, the Discovery Wall is a mixture of technology and innovation. According to Hirsch & Mann, the piece is aimed at celebrating the work being delivered in the research center by "displaying potentially infinite collections of dynamically changing content at street level."
Content displayed on the Discovery Wall can be viewed differently at so-called macro, mezzo and micro levels. By looking at the installation in its macro view from across the road, visitors will see a large-scale high-resolution image on what appears to be one large display. The closer individuals get, however, the more levels of detail are uncovered.
At the mezzo level, from outside the window of the building, visitors can see titles of research topics and clusters of images amongst the LED screens. At the micro level, right up close to the installation, visitors can see high-resolution images and paragraphs of related text on the individual screens.
Content is selected and scheduled using a content management system that was designed for use with the Discovery Wall. As new discoveries are made at the research center, the content is updated. In addition to the layers of content, the curved lenses create a lenticular effect for each mini screen, changing how the artwork looks depending on where the viewer is standing.
"The artwork consists of 2,800 LCD screens in a di-grid," explains Hirsch & Mann on its website. "Each screen is independently controllable and can display any full-sized color block, text and image overlays and full resolution images. Each LCD is capable of displaying 240 x 240 pixels. Each high resolution macro image is 16,800 pixels wide and 9,600 pixels high. It’s a very very large single image – which has to be stitched together in 2,800 240 x 240 segments."
The work is designed to be permanent and has a modular design. All its parts are replaceable and serviceable, meaning maintenance time and costs can be kept to a minimum. It has a power consumption of less than 1 kW.
The video below provides an overview of how the Discovery Wall was made.