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Article categories: Issue 70
February 24th, 2009

When was the last time you held a building in your hand? Project Blinkenlights enables viewers to do just that, only they must bring their mobile phones.


Toronto City Hall showing animations. (c) Thomas Feidler 2008.

Blinkenlights is a group of artists, hackers and programmers who transform architecture into huge screens for public interaction.  By simply placing a call, passersby can play Tetris on 12 floors while watching an animation, also crafted by the viewers, playing in the background.

The group’s most recent installation was Blinkenlights Stereoscope at Toronto City Hall, Canada in October 2008. For the occasion of “Nuit Blanche,” an all-night, all-city arts event, Toronto City Hall was literally put back in the hands of the public for a period of two weeks. Custom-developed wireless technology enabled the 960 windows of the City Hall’s two curved towers to provide a playground screen for the citizens of planet Earth.

Standing on Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto one could choose from six different games by dialling corresponding phone numbers or could simply enjoy the display of an ever-growing playlist of animations provided by the people. At home one could make use of Blinkenlights-provided software to create animations and submit them to the project website. The simulator “Stereoscope” for the iPhone/iPod let participants’ view what was going on from abroad.Before this event, other buildings were happy being screens in former Project Blinkenlights installations: the Haus des Lehrers in Berlin, Germany in 2001 and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris in 2002.

Thomas Fiedler
Thomas Fiedler has been a member of Project Blinkenlights since 2001. A self-proclaimed ‘multiversal omnitheist’, he has been involved in the realisation of broadcast studios, art installations and industrial appliances.

Correction: On page 20 of the printed version of Filter #70, the title is listed incorrectly as “SCREEN EVOLUTION: FROM KINO-EYE TO BIO-KINO”. The correct title for this article is “BUILDINGS THAT WANT YOU TO PLAY”. Sincerely apologises for this error.

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