The robotic Pacman built for last year's Sydney Vivid Festival by UNSW student group CREATE was a big hit, so designing a display that would wow this year's Vivid audience was an ambitious task, says CREATE President Alexander Yellachich.  

The CREATE team decided to look for inspiration from Pieter Mondrian and the De Stijl art movement for this year's contribution – in the form of a colourful interactive Mondrian Cube. 

“This project fits in well with CREATE’s trademark,” says Yellachich, who is studying his third year of a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

The group is known for taking classic concepts and reviving them into modern day equivalents.The 2015 giant robotic pacman display was a revival of the classic 70's arcade game.

pac-man ghost

Image: supplied by CREATE

The modern Mondrian Cube stands over two metres tall and is lit up with interactive panels.

“Visitors can change the illuminated colours by touching a panel,” says Yellachich.  


Photo: UNSW Engineering / Maja Basker

To make them change colour, piezoelectric sensors are used to control over 250 meters of LED strip routed with 600 meters of electrical cable. Each metre of LED strip has 30 individually addressable LEDs, bringing the total number to an impressive 7,500 lights.

The project was led by UNSW Engineering students Chris Ho (Civil/Architecture), Yunzhen Zhang (Electrical) and Scott Fraser (Mechatronics) and backed by 15 CREATE project volunteers. The team designed and built the cube from scratch around a busy schedule of lectures, theses, exams and assignments.

Yellachich says that while learning theory is important, the development of skills through practical experience is what really builds a strong engineer.

Visiting Vivid? Share a photo on Facebook or Instagram of the Mondrian Cube with #UNSWEngineering. It's located at First Fleet Park. Read more on the UNSW Engineering website.