Virtual Images Mosaic

Lee Zimmerman (218)310-8548

This is a proposal for a dynamic wall of virtual images created by a mosaic of slanted mirror pieces. The image that the observer sees on the wall is created by their observation point, the slant of the mirror pieces, and the reflected color of the floor and sky.

Each pixel in the image is a two inch square piece of mirror which can rotate up and down over about a 40 degree range. The pixels are allowed to take on three positions: angled up, angled down, or floating. They are angled by a small puff of air, either pointed at the top or pointed at the bottom of the swinging mirror piece.

The image that one will see on the wall will be set for a narrow range of people looking at it from about eye-level. The mirrors pointed downward will reflect the ground and the mirrors pointed up will reflect the sky. This gives two colors with which to "paint" the surface of the mosaic. The angle of the pixels in concert will be controlled by a microprocessor that will use a series of valves and tubes to angle each mirror pixel or to let it spin freely in the wind.

An example of an image that can be created by the wall would be a forest and lake scene. Say that the easement up to the wall was green grass. The trees in the image would be created by slanting the mirrors down while the sky and the lake would be created by slanting the mirrors up. There would be a viewing plane at eye level for which this image would appear to the observer. Outside of that plane the surface of the wall would seem more or less random.

With computer control, any binary, ie two tone images, could be displayed on the surface of the wall. A wall that is 10' tall and 20' wide would have about 7,200 pixels. This project needs a proof of concept in stages: beginning with a 12" x 12" section, expanding to larger units as extensions of these initial building blocks.

I envision the movement of each pixel is controlled by shooting a puff of air through one of two tubes pointed at the top and bottom of each moving pixel. If there is some small friction in the hinge that holds the mirror pixel in place, the control can be initiated by polling through the sections in a sequential fashion - greatly reduce the number of valves necessary to create the images.

The original valves do not have to be created via computer control. The image can be created with tubes, a flat metal plate with holes poked thought the surface, and a single blower. The holes line up with the tubes that control which way the mirror is to be tilted. The image can be changed by placing plate with different holes over the blower. Each mirror element can have, no holes, top hole open. bottom hole open, or both holes open. This corresponds to free spinning, tilted down, tilted up, or flat for the mirror pixel being controlled.



Inspiration for the dynamic virtual image

I have made several large mosaics. The most public, and the most pertinent for this proposal, was the mirror mosaic bridge that I created for the "Bridging for Art" program in 2005. This was a program to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the aerial lift bridge. The art bridge was located near St. Lukes. It had imbedded in its surface some medical symbols. A car driving up to it, would see a flashing green snake (reflection of the grass) surrounding a blue staff (reflection of the sky) forming the rod of Asclepius. This bridge can be seen today in front of a house on the corner of Gladstone St and Rockview Ct in Duluth. It has survived five Duluth winters in good shape.