Blinkenlights project

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Blinkenlights at the teacher's house

Project Blinkenlights is an independent artist group that emerged from the Chaos Computer Club and has made a name for itself through interactive light installations on buildings. The project was nominated for the 2003 Webby Award in the Net Art category. The name Blinkenlights is an expression of the international hacker jargon .


Project Blinkenlights has carried out various projects over the years.


Blinkenlights seen from the Berlin TV tower

In 2001 the name Blinkenlights was chosen as the title for a light installation in the teacher's house on Alexanderplatz in Berlin . It went into operation on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Chaos Computer Club on September 11, 2001 and was conceived and implemented by members of the club.

Behind the windows of the top eight floors of the building, spotlights were installed on self-made wooden stands. The construction lights were switched on and off via a relay from a central computer. The 144 lamps thus functioned as a huge screen (eight floors with 18 windows each). In order to make the windows look like large pixels , they were painted with wall paint from the inside .

With the BlinkenPaint software , anyone could create their own animations on their own computer and send them in by e-mail . The submissions were added to the playlist and added to a varied program that ran throughout the night.

With the help of a mobile phone , one could also play the computer game pong - alone or in pairs . Personal love messages - the so-called Blinkenlights Loveletters  - could be accessed by phone after they had been sent.


The operating software of Projekt Blinkenlights is published under the free software license GNU GPL and is used for numerous replicas.

The installation was shut down on February 23, 2002 after more than five months as part of a big closing party.


In October 2002, a new variant called Arcade was installed during the Nuit blanche in Paris . This new variant, which was installed in the Tour de Lois of the Bibliothèque nationale de France , could display up to eight shades of gray . In addition to the pong known from Blinkenlights, it was possible to play the classic computer games Pac-Man , Breakout and Tetris with the phone.

With 520 windows (20 floors with 26 windows each) and a total of 3,370 m² illuminated area, Arcade was one of the largest interactive light installations of all time.

Blinkenlights Reloaded

During the 20th  Chaos Communication Congress in December 2003, Blinkenlights was operated again for two weeks in the teacher's house under the name Blinkenlights Reloaded . The same grayscale technique was used here as in Paris.

No war

During the Iraq war of 2003 the facade of the publishing house of Neues Deutschland was illuminated with the slogan "No war (No War)" . The installation was implemented by the typographer Verena Gerlach and Oliver Krieger, two members of the Blinkenlights project.


On October 2nd and 3rd, 2004, in a nine-hour hack, the teacher's house was illuminated again with a simple Blinkenlights installation, namely with a pulsating heart . Among other things, the reason for this company was probably that on Saturday evening on Alexanderplatz part of the 150th episode of the successful TV show Wetten, dass ..? was broadcast.


Blinkenlights at City Hall in Toronto

On September 3rd, 2008 Tim Pritlove announced a new installation of the Blinkenlights project during Nuit Blanche 2008. The City Hall in Toronto , Canada was illuminated . The difference to all previous projects is the special shape of the building: The town hall consists of two high-rise buildings , which are curved inward. Both buildings together have 960 windows or 960 pixels. The brightness of the individual pixels could be set in 16 levels. You can also create your own animations with Quartz Composer or Stereoscope Paint, a simulator for Mac OS X and iPhone is available.


The video clip for the single “Waszählung” from the album “ Auswärtsspiel ” by the German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen was filmed in 2001 during the Blinkenlights campaign in the teacher's house. The video clip shows both the familiar heart from outside and the headlights from inside.

In the Miniatur Wunderland model railway system there is a mini version of Blinkenlights, which (as there is no Berlin replica) can be seen in the Hamburg section. The host building there is similar to the teacher's house.

Related topics

  • Nonogram - a Japanese logic puzzle made up of a few black and white pixels, arose from a similar idea


  • Friedrich von Borries, Steffen P. Walz, Matthias Böttger: Space Time Play Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: the Next Level . Birkhäuser 2007, ISBN 978-3-7643-8414-2 , p. 396f.
  • Roberto Simanowski: Digital media in the adventure society . Rowohlt 2008, ISBN 978-3-499-55696-8 , pp. 34f.

Web links

Commons : Project Blinkenlights  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Internet presence of the Webby Award ( Memento of the original from October 22, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Blinkenlights - entry in the Urban Dictionary (accessed December 29, 2009)
  4. ^ A Mass for Discovery , Article of the World, October 11, 2008
  5. Article on Chaos Computer Club (CCC)