[Exclusive] A Low-Res Screen Made from Spools of Colorful Thread

Click to see the your Instagram pics transformed into an 11-foot tapestry.

Jul 23 2015, 1:00pm

Seeing your Instagram photos transformed almost instantly into an 11-foot-tall tapestry is a dazzlingly satisfying sight, as we learned while testing out a crazy-complicated new invention called the F21 Thread Screen. Built by NYC prototyping studio, Breakfast, for a Forever 21 back-to-school campaign, the machine weighs 2,000 pounds, and is uses 200,000 separate parts, including 6,400 spools of thread, to translate crowdsourced digital photos into analog fabric murals, which are then captured as videos, like the one you see above.

The project is undeniably a massive undertaking ("I tell people it would have been easier to build a car," Breakfast co-founder Andrew Zolty tells The Creators Project), and not one with an overstated payoff. When 6,400 spools become pixels in a screen, the result is very low-resolution—80 x 80 px, which is about as large as your Facebook avatar. Zolty and the Breakfast team, however, compensated by carefully selecting the 36 colors their machine could display to maximize their range.

"It does 8-bit stuff, like old school Mario things, really well," Zolty explains. "When people take an image like that, and they also know the palette F21 Thread Screen can do, they can make some pretty things that look crystal clear." This is his favorite example:

Zolty shared the the F21 Thread Screen's exact color palette with The Creators Project, the perfect cocktail for blending threads on this kind of scale. If projects like this—or the trailblazing work of kinetic artists like Daniel Rozin and Zimoun—are up your alley, this color palette is a good place to start.

Images courtesy the artist

Check out some behind-the-scenes footage and images from Breakfast's F21 Thread Screen:

The F21 Thread Screen is currently housed in Breakfast's NYC studio, but it's built to travel—provided it has a couple of engineers to keep it out of trouble. Get your own Instagrams thread screened by tagging them #F21THREADSCREEN. Breakfast will operate the screen through July 28th, and you can watch the results on a livestream here.


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