Blair Neal's Survey of Alternative Displays

For anyone currently working in the field of live visuals, one of the most exciting areas of bleeding edge technologies is on the side of displays – the place where people look at to see the amazing imagery coming out of our computers. There are a lot of new – and ancient – techniques to learn about and along with that a lot of new information to take in – all of which our good friend Blair Neal covers in his recently updated blog post “Survey of Alternative Displays

Stained Glass Example — Source

Stained Glass Example — Source

“An artist has a large range of ways they can display their work. Cave walls gave way to canvas and paper as ways to create portals into another human’s imagination. Stained glass windows were early versions of combining light and imagery. Electronic displays are our next continuation of this same concept. A photon is emitted; it travels until it reflects off of or passes through a medium. That photon then passes into your eyeball and excites some specialized cells — when enough of these cells are excited, your brain turns these into what you perceive as an image.


The purpose of this article is to collect and consolidate a list of these alternative methods of working with displays, light and optics. This will by no means be an exhaustive list of the possibilities available — depending on how you categorize, there could be dozens or hundreds of ways. There are historical mainstays, oddball one-offs, expensive failures and techniques that are only beginning to come into their own.

This document will hopefully serve as a reference for artists who are curious about pushing their content outside of a standard screen. Some implementations are incredibly practical and achievable on small budgets, and some require very specialized patented hardware that only exists in a lab somewhere. It is important not to get bogged down in the specifics of the technology, but to recognize that these all exist on a spectrum of information transference that employ light, medium, and brain. By keeping things in these simple terms, you are free to mix, match and re-appropriate to tell new stories.”

Perhaps our favorite among the examples is the infamous “Wobbulator

Needless to say, this article is a must read for pretty much everyone working in the visual arts.

And be sure to check out our artist feature on Blair from a little while back!