"Pixinity: Pop-Futurism": An Immersive Art Exhibit for Autism Awareness

BY SCARLETT LIRIANO CEPIN

In collaboration with the organization Autism Speaks, artist Tianyu Qiu sheds light on the struggles of those with autism through an immersive pixelated experience in the heart of SoHo. The exhibition intersects aspects of technology, gaming, and social media into ten interactive rooms visitors are free to explore. Qiu largely drew from the experiences of his autistic family member. Since she was not able to communicate verbally, he was inspired by her usage of technology and iconographic symbols to get her point across.

PHOTO:  Pixinity

PHOTO: Pixinity

Growing up, the artist noticed how these unconventional methods of communication were useful to her, and he found that incredibly compelling. The installation relates these methods by continuously using elements that are easily recognizable to its audience; for example, one of the first rooms features various emojis. Qiu manipulates the emojis to convey the message of awareness that is his ultimate goal with this exhibit. "Basically, the whole world is a digital world," he said.

As you walk through each of the ten rooms, you begin to understand what exactly he means by that. Each room is an individualized pixelated experience for the viewer, and they all depict the digitized lens Qiu imagines his family member sees the world through. The exhibition also nods to the effect of social media culture and how people are becoming increasingly "integrated into the digital realm." Avocadoes, gardens, and even skyscrapers are given the pixel treatment throughout the installation, helping to convey the artist's message of awareness further.

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Bright colors greet you in every direction as you make your way through the exhibition. It is jarring in the best way possible. Multiple interactive elements keep the viewer engaged and attentive. The pixelated heart overlooking a white ball pit filled with pink plastic balls was the favorite room of various people in attendance. "First of all, I want people to have fun, but at the same time, I want people to learn about the story behind it," Qiu responded when asked about what he wanted people to take from the exhibit. When you are about to leave, you walk past a mirror with the words "Born to Shine" emblazoned on it in neon lettering.

Qiu supports his passion for garnering awareness with other efforts to help those who are autistic. As mentioned earlier, Pixinity is a collaborative effort with the organization Autism Speaks and their "Born to Shine" program. A portion of the proceeds gathered by the installation will be donated to the program, the artist also plans on eventually offering autistic people the opportunity to view the exhibition free of charge. "We're pairing up with them to do better things, to help, not just to make things aesthetically pleasing, but to be even more helpful, to raise social awareness."

"Pixinity: Pop-Futurism" by Tianyu Qiu and presented by Out of Nowhere LLC in collaboration with the organization Autism Speaks is on display through November 8th, 2019, at 1 York Street in SoHo. It is open from 11am-9pm. For more information and ticket prices, click here.

Lead Image Credit: Pixinity / Instagram