The pixel is the building block of modern visual media: look closely at any picture in this magazine and you’ll count three hundred of them to the square inch. Pixelblocks, a new toy, makes that building-block metaphor literal. Created by television engineer Jay Simmons, the blocks were licensed last year and redesigned by Aaron Rincover, a former architect who now designs lighting.
The 3/8-inch translucent blocks come in 20 colors. Because their grooved sides allow them to fit together in several different ways, you can use them to construct complex 3-D forms or create a two-dimensional mosaic by importing any photograph into an application on the Pixelblocks Web site (www.pixelblocks.com). It converts the image into a color-coded map, which you print out and build on top of. The pointillist result—abstracted in a lovely way—glows like stained glass when held up to a window. Kits, which range from 200 to 2,800 blocks, will be in stores in August.