Infra Is A Television Made Of Infrared Pixels


This television is perfect except for its low resolution and the fact that it can’t be seen by the naked eye. [Chris Shen’s] art installation, Infra, uses 625 television remotes as pixels for a TV screen. There’s a little bit of insight to be gained from the details which [Chris] shared with EMSL.

The remote controls were all throw-aways. Even if there are problems with the buttons, battery connectors, or cases, chances are the IR led in each was still functional. So [Chris] patched into them using about 500 meters of speaker wire.

Why 625 pixel? Because that’s how many LEDs the Peggy board can handle. We’ve seen this open source LED board driving video in other projects. Here it’s been connected to each remote using Molex connectors. Each of the headers has the same pitch as a through-hole 5mm LED. The entire board was filled with them, and a mating crimp connector terminates the end of the wire coming out of each remote. This makes setup quite easy as the remotes don’t have to be installed in any particular order as long as the physical location matches Peggy’s grid.

You can get a glimpse of the piece playing video in the clip after the break.

[via Reddit]

80 thoughts on “Infra Is A Television Made Of Infrared Pixels

      1. It would better represent something interesting if you could actually make out an image so I agree with jpnorair. Something lower resolution to take advantage of it, rather than trying to drop the resolution of a television feed to create a barely visible image. Otherwise, kudos to them on getting it to work well for what it is.

      2. I understand well, but this is supposed to be functional art. If it doesn’t function at all, there’s little redeeming value. Just standing alone, it’s a statement, sure, but not an especially creative one. If it functions even a little bit, though, then it becomes art.

      3. I’m an engineer, not an artist, but the installation doesn’t resonate with me. I might feel differently if the displayed “images” were recognizable, but all I see is dark and light areas. If the artist wanted to call them images, he needs to increase the number of pixels and space them closer. I’m sorry, I just don’t see it — it just looks like a half-asssed attempt at a low-res video display — if it’s a statement, it’s a poorly executed one, which fails.

      4. Art fails or succeeds based on its ability to communicate the idea that it is trying to get across on its own merits. While I applaud the idea, if there wasn’t a placard next to this instillation, or in our case, an article explaining what’s happening, we would never understand what it is they’re trying to do. I’ll make an exception with instructions on how to view the piece (with a cell phone camera, or some sort of installed infrared camera and monitor), but as it is, it just fails, there’s no image, it doesn’t approximate a television, and there wasn’t enough work put into the piece to call it finished. As it is, it comes across as lazy, especially because of all of the work that was put into it already, and that the solution would be so simple.

          1. Modern art is something very different, it’s a style (or anti-style) in which past (before 1860s or so) traditions have been set aside in favor of new styles and experimentation. This is probably considered new media art.

  1. If I am told that the batteries are dead, I always point a digital camera(or my phone’s camera) at a remote control to see if the IR LED’s are working or not when I press the buttons. So in theory even though they are outputting IR outside of the human eyes frequency range, a camera would still be able to see the image, he should have displayed something in his 25×25 grid.

    1. I got that the other day when I took my broken remote back to the shop (Currys, a big chain). “I’ll just take it back to test it” “No, it’s ok, he’s already looked at it through a mobile phone”. Turns out I’m a qualified high-street service technician and I didn’t know it.

          1. Thanks for the heads up on the pass filter. I have an older Axis webcam whose “normal” hot filter had some crap on it that I couldn’t get off. An IR-pass filter would be more interesting to play with.

    2. OMG! So the abstract art bullshit of the article fails to impress me, but I’m glad that article was posted just to find out about using a digital camera to see IR signal.
      Woohoo, I had to try it right away of course :)

    3. >So in theory even though they are outputting IR outside of the human eyes frequency range, a camera would still be able to see the image

      Uhhh… it’s not “in theory,” it is precisely what’s going on in the video.

    1. I’ve already done it :) Worse it at a concert as a demo so that all the photos and recordings would include a website url but it wasn’t visible to security. I plan to send it into HaD once the clips are edited together :)

  2. This isn’t art at all.

    Typical idiot wanted to be an artist and found he had no genuine talent for it and found himself too dumb to gain any skill. So he decides he’ll use post-modernism to his “advantage” and create a piece of SHIT that he’ll call “art”.

  3. Repurposing IR-LEDs from remotes to build a screen: Cool
    Doing a hundred times as much work installing a molex connector so you can keep them in the remotes: Pointless

    Maybe it’s just me but doing the same thing many other people have done with an arbitrary handicap just doesn’t seem that notable. It doesn’t surprise me that the creator’s website is one of those “Putting everything in tiny font a similar shade as the background makes me deep, right?” sites made by every liberal arts student on earth.


        “An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, safety and cost.
        The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human needs and quality of life”

        This ‘art’ my friend, has a high cost to functionality ratio. Can you explain me again how this ‘art’ increases my quality of life?

        1. And that reply supports the theory that Engineers don’t understand art.
          “Art” is meant to increase your quality of life by being “enjoyed” for it’s “artistic quality” not because it does something for you or helps in some way. It doesn’t have to be functional at all.
          That said, this would be much more impressive with better software. How about showing a full brightness page and using a webcam to calibrate each LED so the range (while reduced) is even across all of them? That is simple to do in software.

          1. ‘Enjoyed: take delight or pleasure in’
            Sounds as if it does something; merely more a psychological effect than physical functionality.

            I would have to agree with You in that it could be improved upon, even without diminishing the ‘artistic appeal’.

      2. I’m an engineer. I’ve seen 2000 years old egyptian frescos in Crete and was amazed. I’ve seen the Mona Lisa in Le Louvre, and was amazed. I’ve seen Greek statues around the Pantheon in Athens, and was amazed. I’ve been to Venice for my honeymoon and was amazed. I see “abstract art” like this shit and I yawn.
        So rather than stating “engineers don’t appreciate art”, one should first ask “is doing anything that noone did before sufficient to qualify as art”. If yes, I can poop in a ice cream scoop, add booger chips on top, and you should be willing to recognise my artistic genius and pay me few grand for it.
        Alternatively, you could admit your preconception is wrong and that self-proclaiming some random shit as “art” doesn’t automatically make an artist.
        On the other hand, I have to admit that’s good probably enough for a Turner prize.

        1. True,
          Now-a-days people with absolutely NO skill just call their crap “art” and think they are better than everybody else, because they are “an artist”.
          I have seen Art and have appreciated it, I have seen blocks of marble HAND carved into perfection, I have seen photo realistic oil paintings made centuries ago.. etc etc..
          THAT takes skill..

  4. I have a new IT tech, and I was trying to explain this hack to him, he asked so many questions, like isn’t a bag of infrared LEDS cheaper and easier than cracking open remotes? I tried to explain to him that’s it’s a hack, and cool, experimental, and awesome stuff doesn’t get in as a hack, it’s the plain crap that makes hack a day see days. He shrugged his shoulders and said he will stick to Engadget. I said oh yes, hack a day reports that stuff too.

  5. i was gonna comment on the project, but nothing i have to say about it would be positive.
    execpt i always thought a dual IR/visible display could have many interesting features

  6. Yeah, block the truth, hackaday.


    I bet the fools thinking this is art probably think damien hirst is a artist,

      1. @Alex

        Since this wasn’t art, and wasn’t done by an artist – what’s your point?

        Good art is self evident. Bad art always has some esoteric long winded bullshit explanation by the “artist” explaining why the common person is too stupid to recognize how clever the “artist” is.

  7. These modern artists have no point in life. Stuff like this is useless. If they have nothing better to do they should go to a children’s hospital and paint cartoons on the walls to make sick children a little happier. That would be much more appreciated than this useless… thing… mess of wires… you-name-it… something…

    1. Maybe you should sit back and learn a little. This isn’t modern art.

      Or maybe you’re so busy between working at children’s hospitals and posting snarky comments on hackaday, that you don’t have time for silly things like that?

  8. I wonder if pingpong balls are IR-translucent enough to act as diffusers. That may have made for more interesting display image. Granted, either way, it’s like watching a Nipkow disc TV.

  9. I try to be positive about every post i comment about but I am really struggling to find *anything good about this. I love functional art but this is not that, I could not make out anything other than a refresh rate (i assume is from the tv signal) and what looked like a white blob moving across the screen. When I read the post I was hopeful to see something impressive but this is pretty awful! Hirudinea said it best, I would love to see an infra-red billboard! Great Idea. If the authors of this want to impress ppl, they really shouldn’t be showing a video of a disappointing faliure

    1. I worked as an electronics engineer successfully enough to be happily retired. I also like experiencing ‘art’ both classical and modern. I liked this.
      I think, if you look, you can guess that it’s a (very badly displayed) bit of video and I like the fact that the video is coming out of the remotes. I think it’s good enough to be classed as art.
      Of course, your opinion is equally valid, and in these Comments seems to be in the majority!

  10. I laughed. I cried. I loved.

    It is arguably better than the lady that rides her motorcycle with canvas and sells the bug splats as “art”. Chief actually built something.

    A funny CSB: back when the wife and I were dating, we went to a friend’s sculpture exhibit with several other artists showing. There was a break before the “fabric art performance” and we were standing outside having a cig. Everyone went to stub out and head back in but there was no receptacle. It was then that I was heard to remark, “All of these artists and no one can make an ash tray out of clay. That was like the first thing I ever made and my parents didn’t even smoke.” There was a good bit of laughter among the artists. Pure hilarity.

  11. If you honestly can’t understand why a faux-television display made of hundreds of different television remotes would be considered (rightfully so) art, you need to get out of your lab.
    There are so many more things I could write with words like “autism” and “introspection” but Ill leave those as an exercise for the reader.

  12. I like the idea but not the implementation.

    To improve it I would have used 4x the amount of remotes, and probably 3 more Peggy boards and a controller board.
    You’d then have four 625 LED panels, all you need to do then is use the controller board to make each Peggy board only show 1/4 of the original image.

    You might actually get a semi decent picture then.

  13. What a cool project. This is a really great proof of concept, made of recycled materials to boot.

    All the negativity in this thread really disappointed me — what happened to HaD filtering out non-constructive comments, anyway? There should be a rule in the forums: when you say something negative and non-constructive about someone else’s project, you have to show us your project.

  14. I love the idea personally, but as already said they need some brightness leveling across the field of LEDs, and a video subject better suited to the created screen to really slam the visuals across better.
    Those two things seem easily attended to.
    I wish we could see a follow up…

  15. If one of art’s purposes is to inspire, than this piece has succeeded. Just look at the ideas it has sparked in this thread.
    Is the point of creativity to only create sucessfull work? Ideally perhaps, but in reality it is far too difficult to be perfect 100% of the time. Creativity needs experimentation to evolve, no matter the quality of the outcome.
    I wouldn’t be framing this and hanging it on my wall, but it is an interesting experiment in form and function.

  16. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not art. Art is the result of the artist expressing themselves in their chosen medium; only the artist can decide if it’s art. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to fulfill a purpose, you can hate it, or say it sucks, but it’s still art.

    1. “Art is the result of the artist expressing themselves in their chosen medium; only the artist can decide if it’s art.”

      I bet you lifted that from the introduction of some cheesy two year art school.

  17. you don’t even need a infrared camera to see the light you just need a webcam to do the job, for the people who don’t know try it, grab your remote, point it to your webcam when your on it an press the buttons, you will still see the flashes, an its in color as well (not the flashes, but the world around you)

  18. although many people have commented on this project I think that the negative and positive comments are all perfectly justified, not everyone will like this or that,it’s just a matter of taste,especially when it comes to art, a question i would like to put to everyone is that what is arts purpose if it cant start a conversation or a debate and all the comments on this page have validated the artists intention to start a conversation, high or low art it doesn’t really matter.
    Everyone likes different things and whether you agree or not you have still contributed to the conversation about this work.
    I like the idea of this work,it isn’t a high definition wide screen all singing all dancing perfect image, and yes I agree you can’t tell really what is being shown, it is a composite of infrared (not visible to the naked eye) lights being switched on and off and without a camera you wouldn’t be able to see any picture anyway so why does it need to be crystal clear when finally seen? Why do some people think that art has to be labelled and need to be spoon fed what the piece is about anyway,where is the fun in that? It is a typical example of society needing to be told every little thing about everything, why not use your imagination and think for yourself, when the artist makes their work and presents it with an explanation that is their opinion of the work,there is of course a point in setting the context of the piece but not everyone will be able to get what the artist is intending as this example shows all too well.

    Enjoy the art,have fun and don’t accept everything that your told, you were born with a brain to think freely,don’t waste it :)
    Good day

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