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Pixel art as 'resolutionary' as iPad -- in own, low-def way

Made up of 3,600 tiles of LCD glass that function like giant pixels, "Patterned by Nature" is an awe-inspiring "large screen" sculpture.

Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET

The latest iPad and its "resolutionary" display have made ever-smaller pixels all the rage, but here's a sculpture that boldly and beautifully goes in the opposite direction.

"Patterned by Nature" (see video below) is made up of 3,600 tiles of LCD glass -- each roughly the size of a laptop screen -- and is 90 feet long and 10 feet wide. The giant sculpture hangs in the several-story atrium of the just-opened Nature Research Center in North Carolina, a new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Each LCD can display various levels of blue-gray transparency, from clear all the way to opaque. And the matrix as a whole is used as a giant screen of sorts to show 20 different animations of different natural phenomena -- a flock of geese swooping through the atrium, say, or the pattern of rain splashing into a pond.

Two small monitors provide details about what's being shown, and a soundtrack also serves up clues.

The animations "were created through a combination of algorithmic software modeling of natural phenomena and compositing of actual footage," according to design studio Sosolimited, which, along with Plebian Design and Hypersonic Design and Engineering, created the piece. Soso also says it takes just 75 watts to power the sculpture -- less than what's needed to run a laptop.

"It's been a challenging process figuring out how to do motion design for a grayscale, 1:9 aspect, 20x180 pixel, three-dimensional display..." Eric Gunther writes on Sosolimited's blog. "Our goal is to capture the kinetic essence of each pattern while staying as true as possible to the science. Add in the eight-channel soundtrack, and we hope to transport visitors to the sun-filled atrium deep into the patterns of our universe."

We'd add that "Patterned by Nature" seems resolutionary in its own, impressively low-definition way.

(Via Creative Applications Network)