The US-based new media art collective Breakfast switches bricks with ‘brixels’

Art studio Breakfast, located in Brooklyn, has successfully broadened the horizon of digital technology from glowing pixels to brixels to create artwork and sculptures.

by Dilpreet Bhullar Published on : Mar 31, 2020

Broadening the digital world of glowing pixels to the ways of having it speak with the people through a kinetic medium called brixels underscores the works done by the art studio Breakfast. Co-founded by Andrew Zolty and Mattias Gunneras in 2009, the Brooklyn-based new media art collective Breakfast brings together the worlds of art and engineering with their artworks that aim to connect people separated by geographical distance and time. In the world that changes with a blink of an eye, the audience interacts with the artworks, which involve software and hardware, to gauge the relationships between movement of the human bodies and technological revolution.

Climate Change Series, 2019 | Breakfast | STIRworld
Climate Change Series, 2019 Image Credit: Courtesy of Breakfast

Andrew Zolty, in an interview with STIR, elucidates on the idea of naming the platform Breakfast. “When starting the studio, our background was solely in art, software, and design. Hardware was new for us, and a lot of things would go up in smoke as we tried to learn as fast as we could. Thus - break-fast," he says.

Looking for a balance between the fields of art and technology, Zolty says, “We do not see the future of visual arts depending on art + tech, but we feel it is an underserved global community. The problem is that most screen-based digital art often does not sit right with people — it is hard to look at a Samsung screen and feel it is a work of art regardless of what is being displayed on it. What we see as a successful future approach to visual arts is finding ways to create tech-based art that feels like a work of art. It is a fine line.”

Pool, 2018 | Breakfast | STIRworld
Pool, 2018 Image Credit: Courtesy of Breakfast

With the Climate Change series, the real-time data is put into use to underline the all-pervading impact of climate change. By keeping a tab on the climate measurement of an area in real-time, the pieces of the series switch from the colour green to shimmery gold that indicates a shift in the environment from healthy to hazardous. As the viewer walks close to the work, the change in the climate measurements turns the image into either green or gold to represent the role of humans when it comes to the rising environmental concerns.

The kinetic artwork Pulse, commissioned for Equinox's global headquarters in New York, is an installation made out of 390 brixels that run across two storeys. The infinite rotation of the mirrored and matte-black bricks is instigated by the entry of the members into various Equinox locations around the globe. This digitally controlled installation creates a captivating visual for both members and onlookers.

A brixels interactive and real-time data driven art installation, 2019 | Breakfast | STIRworld
A brixels interactive and real-time data driven art installation, 2019 Image Credit: Courtesy of Breakfast

Bringing a shift in the ways people look and experience fine art practices, Breakfast engages the younger audience with the artworks that are built with technology. To realise this, Zolty says, “the beginning and ending are the high-point in the making of the artwork, and the middle path is a roller coaster ride”. The artworks intent to leave the audience with a smart and mesmerising experience. Zolty adds, “We look to stop people and make them think. Our mediums do the stopping and our software and concepts make them think.”

Points, 2013 | Breakfast | STIRworld
Points, 2013 Image Credit: Courtesy of Breakfast

Playing with the human movement is another work Pool, where the brixels collectively move up and down, lending an ebb and flow effect of the water. Motivated by the call and response action of the viewer moving around the sculpture, the brixels receive ripples as if someone has dived into the pool of water.

Undeniably, Breakfast is a living manifestation of transition from ‘stem to steam’.

Awaken, 2019 | Breakfast | STIRworld
Awaken, 2019 Image Credit: Courtesy of Breakfast

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About Author

Dilpreet Bhullar

Dilpreet Bhullar

Bhullar is a writer-researcher based in New Delhi. She has been co-editor of the books Third Eye: Photography and Ways of Seeing and Voices and Images. Her essays on visual sociology and identity politics are frequently published in leading books, journals and magazines. She is the associate editor of a theme-based journal dedicated to visual arts, published by India Habitat Centre.

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