Animated Squares by John Johnston

There was a moment of epiphany that I had today and I’m pretty sure it had something to do with seeing the dazzling animated squares by John Johnston above. It was actually quite lucky that I saw this piece in my Tumblr feed which is filled with visual interestingness. But the post found it’s way to the surface thankfully and I couldn’t help but give a shout out for its wonderfulness, and apparently there is a method behind it  – and I want to know what it is!

And then for the billionth time I walked the hallway just outside of the classroom I teach and noticed the walls as squares – as in square pixels. And that they represented this unusual opportunity consider them as a concrete pixel display.

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These concrete blocks that were part of the unique architectural finger print of this odd public building presented an opportunity. Each 7.5″ x 7.5″ square could be any color and with 12 pixel by virtually 100s pixel wide space there might be some opportunity to create a pixel based mural. And even animate it.

There are these lovely graffiti GIFs out there, which capture a public mural’s ephemeralness by emphasizing the piece in transition. You can’t be sure what was finally ‘left behind,’ but you see the evolution of the piece captured as an animated event.

I set out to experiment with my new found pixel wall, with only about an hour before I had to be home (daddy duties). I discovered this 8 bit skull which the author of it is a little unclear. And I quickly crafted a plan.

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But I had no dark paper and ran around the campus looking for construction paper, which I easily would have found in my house! I mean any five year old knows the value of construction paper, why not an institution of higher education! So I made due with printing squares from photo copier and cutting out 42 of them.

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Now with only about fifteen minutes left before I had to leave, luckily I found a couple students to help. One to document, and one to work the Scotch tape and help me translate the drawing to the wall. That was surprisingly difficult actually, the squares on the paper are so little compared to the wall!

We pulled it off, and I’m so excited about the possibilities. I’m really hopeful that Ryan Seslow, our students at York College, and I come up with a fabulous project we can all collaborate on.


pixel skull finished2


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