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Mosaikmaschine lets a community collaborate to design a massive mural

Arduino TeamNovember 5th, 2023

A good mural can really capture the identity of a community and it is typically up to an artist to figure out how to accomplish that. But what if every individual in a community could contribute a design that would become a piece of the larger mural? Niklas Roy was able to make that reality with the “Mosaikmaschine.”

To create collaborative pieces of permanent artwork, Roy had to do two things. First, he needed a way to get a small design from every person that wanted to be part of the project. Second, he needed a way to physically paint those designs onto walls.

For the sake of simplicity, Roy decided that each user design would be a single square image with a resolution of 32 by 32 pixels. He then built a portable machine designed to look like an arcade cabinet. That machine has an arcade-style joystick and buttons that residents used to move a cursor and fill in the pixels of their designs. The controls connect through an Arduino board to a laptop that runs the drawing software.

Roy wheeled that machine around the community, letting everyone draw their designs. Once he had a big enough collection, he used a Silhouette Cameo Pro large-format craft cutting machine to fabricate pixelated stencils of the designs. With a stack of stencils in hand, Roy and a team of volunteers were able to spray paint hundreds of designs onto walls around the neighborhood.

The result is a series of morals with a cohesive aesthetic, but which reflect the individuality of the community’s residents.