Two-Bit Technology Turned 8-Bit Magic: Very Important Pixels by Kristof Saelen

Directors Pixels

Tarantino, David Lynch, George Lucas, Kubrick, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Tim Burton.

You’re probably thinking at least 2 things right now: “Woah, these are pretty awesome!” and “No shit, asshole!  I figured out who they were, all by my-fucking-self.”

Movie Directors” is part of an ongoing project called Very Important Pixels, created by Kristof Saelen, a Belgian designer and web developer.  The most remarkable thing about his work is the fact that, if you are up on your pop-culture, each character is so incredibly recognizable.  Saelen‘s work becomes more and more impressive to me, the more that I look at it.  The slight touch of his work is mind-blowing, especially considering that, if Kubrick’s eyes weren’t tweaked with that delicate splash of crazy just right, he could have easily come off as a young Francis Ford Coppola.

This is the most recent work (Sept. 7th) but, based on the dates that the various posts were made, it appears that the first group of images were of Michael Jackson, in various stages of his life.

michael_jackson pixels

These pixelated MJ‘s appeared on June 27th, only two days after his death.  Since then, new series began to pop up regularly, on the site, and have now become a weekly thing for Saelen.

The project’s site contains the pseudo-mission statement, “Our purpose is to serve y’all with a weekly dose of the finest pixel art” as well as the promise of “T-SHIRTS AVAILABLE SOON

James Bond Pixels

Whether it’s a testament to Saelen‘s artistic ability, the amount of worthless information trapped in my skull, or both, my immediate reactions to the James Bond line of images above was, “Holy shit!  That’s George Lazenby!”  The ability to create such subtle contrasts between Lazenby, Connery, Brosnan, and Timothy Dalton, while working with such a minuscule scale and generally imprecise medium, is beyond impressive.  The feat becomes even more notable, when you consider that they are all wearing the exact same black tuxedo ensemble.

80s heroes

Above all, the series called “80s Heroes” (above)  is what really set my brain philosophizing on a deeper level, in regards to Kristof‘s project.  The idea behind pixelation art gaining hype via the Internet, is as fitting as it is ironic.

The 8-bit gaming-era’s imagery was the best that they could provide at the time.  Systems like the NES marked advancements in home gaming and technology in general.  Although people were impressed by it at the time, by definition, there has still always been a constant focus on what are considered to be “improvements” and “Technological Advancements”.  Now, with all of the technology available, it’s refreshing when I see people revert back to the old aesthetics, even if they are using programs like photoshop to create them.

The retro approach doesn’t only work on levels of nostalgia, but also raises questions of existentialism, perception, humanistic psychology, and egotism.  Most of us seem to live in the past, focusing on the after effects and baggage from our histories, and/or living in the future, preparing for the next “milestone” or “important” event to take place.  Rarely do we ever exist in real time, as is addressed by Tich Naht Hanh through methods of Engaged Budhism.  By reverting back to old technology and aesthetics by choice, it represents, or rather “Re-Presents“, what we may have taken for granted and never truly appreciated the first time around.  What we are given is a fresh perspective, as well as a second chance for the future, through it’s detoxifying effects.

Naw!  Actually, I’m just fucking around…mostly.  But these things do look crazy awesome, right?

metallica pixels
I’m not a fan of post-80s Metallica but, in all fairness, this rendition is amazing.  I can almost smell the guyliner on Kirk Hammett‘s face.  The only thing that’s missing, is a crying pixelation of Dave Mustaine and a therapist.

If you have your own suggestions, for either an upcoming series or anything else, Saelen encourages you to tweet your ideas to @VIPXLS.

Make sure check out the rest of the VIP Pixels series and stay informed at

MJ & Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas_jpg
[Nice work sir, we salute you on your inventiveness and skillfulness at your craft.]

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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