Photo credit: Windell H. Oskay,
on creative engineering and new media art

Blinkenlights (2001)

February 16th, 2009

Interactive media façade by Chaos Computer Club (2001-)


Project Blinkenlights was a public installations that turned the façade of a building into a low-resolution display, using lights inside the windows. Members of the general public could upload their own animations to the building, using a special piece of software rom the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). You could also play a version of Pong on the building, using mobile phones.

These days there are lots and lots of these “media façades” installed over the world that make the black and white, pixeled display of Blinkenlights look rather primitive, but it deserves it place in media art history. The original Blinkenlights, first installed 11 sep 2001 (sic!) in the Haus der Lehrers at the Alexanderplatz in Berlin, was one of the first – if not the first? – of this type of public installations. Also you should remember that this was not a permanent commercial project, but a temporary project created using DIY electronics in an empty office building. The people behind the original Blinkenlights also updated the project and shown it elsewhere, as in the Blinkenlights Arcade at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris (2003) and Blinkenlights Stereoscope at Toronto’s City Hall (2008).