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Thinking beyond pixels and screens

“My battle is against pixels empire! I’ve been fight against it for almost 20 years!” This is the battle cry that Hiroshi Ishii, the next guest at the Meet the Media Guru, shouted in the MIT laboratories to upset a communication system that still occur behind a screen without any chance for kinaesthetic interactions.

Ishii believes that we must think “beyond the screen” and find a way to have people interact with technology is a more effective and direct way: one way is involving the body andsensory experimentation. If everything is pixel, hence intangible, it’s as though information on the screen was at the bottom of the sea: you see it, but can’t touch it. Ishii’s work is focused on bringing information “to the surface” and make them tangible.

You are not touching information, just surface on a screen.

Ishii will explain his vision at Meet the Media Guru, helping us understand the evolutions in the next 100 years.


For a first taste of this pioneering vision, you may delve into Hiroshi Ishii and his Tangible Media Group’s research to discover that his foundation does not rest on exclusively technological elements, but also on the push and drive to give material and expressive form to the virtual world.

How can one embody physical information with codes in order to use the hands directly to grab and “feel” the data?

One of the first examples is MusicBottles, an installation where music is produced by opening and closing the caps of several glass bottles.


Moving on to manipulating another art form, let’s take a look at I/O Brush, a normal brush that “absorbs” the colours, patterns and textures of any objects it touches and uses them to paint on a large digital canvas. The tool inspires the young and the old to become creators, breaking the boundaries between real and virtual, as one world spawns the other.

And if we wanted to mould new shapes or move objects by connecting and collaborating with other people in other places?

Physical Telepresence describes the concept of shape transmission, offering interaction methods to manipulate remote physical objects and make shared digital content physical.

Arms multiply and objects seem to animate in a futuristic scenario where, in order to create, it is no longer necessary to be physically there or for the actual object to be present.

What is torn down are not the physical barriers but those between different devices. In Thawsmartphones act both as a physical interface and an additional graphic layer interacting depending on the proximity and position with a computer screen.

In his vision of the future, Hiroshi Ishii sees virtual and real data merge to generate an increasing connection between man, digital information and the physical environment.