This Giant Interactive Mirror Turns Viewers Into Pixels

What is a sign? More and more, it seems to be a blinding color array. Every highway is becoming Las Vegas, filled with blinding, LED billboards demanding your attention for cheap pizza delivery.

Iris, by Korean studio Hybe, is a captivating display that’s instead defined by its minimalism. Rather than creating light, it creates dark, leveraging aging LCD tech to create complex swirling pixel art.

“One day, I happened to keep watching transparent digital clock with black liquid crystal on my desk, appreciating its minimalist aesthetics and movement,” Changmin Han tells Co.Design. “I thought it would be a unique media canvas if I could enlarge it.”

So Han created an LCD grid, a design that had a practical advantage beyond mere aesthetics–it was green. “Many people believe that LED is very green technology with great brightness and low power consumption,” Han explains. “It is true for a single LED module, but is absolutely false belief when it becomes media canvas with thousands of them.”

Internally, Hybe’s LCD design is a lot more like a classic Gameboy than an iPad, relying on ambient light to offer highlights rather than light emitting diodes. Iris’s 3.5-inch squares use an almost immeasurable 90 microWatts. To get an idea of how that sort of energy scales, a similar LCD display measuring 90 feet by 10 feet can operate on a mere laptop battery. Theoretically, Iris could run on, what, a cellphone battery? Even less?

Yet none of this would matter if Iris weren’t so entrancing at its core. Its animation loops are silky smooth. Its Kinect-powered mirror mode is oddly entrancing. And even though we’ve all seen countless LCD clocks, Hybe has managed to put together something that none of us can claim we’ve seen before.

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