Located in a restored Victorian industrial building in the Distillery District, Cube Works is part studio and part gallery. Vibrant, multi-coloured, in-your-face pictures of familiar icons—Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley—are plastered all over the exposed-brick walls. Get a bit closer to the images and you quickly realize they’re not paintings or posters, but rather artwork made entirely out of Rubik’s Cubes.
In much the same way that pixels on a computer screen are coloured and organized to form images, Cube Works uses Rubik’s Cubes as the core material for their art. The inspiration for the company’s “retro yet avant-garde” work, explains Josh Chalom, the creative director of Cube Works, comes from playing old-school videogames. Translating that eight-bit gaming aesthetic into art was natural. “Kids make simple images, like putting a few cubes together to create a flower,” he says. “We’ve just taken it to a much larger level.” The studio also features art created with dice, thread, crayons, and other unusual materials.
Creating these intricate compositions is no easy feat. If the artwork is commissioned, the client will bring the idea to the Cube Works design team. They create or find an image and then pixelate it using computer programs, but it takes many hours to “map out” the blueprints for each project. “It’s a little bit trickier than it looks,” explains Nick Hall, Cube Works’ design architect. “The computer thinks in an infinite palette, but we only work with six colours.”
Commissioning skilled Rubik's-Cube users to manipulate cubes into the patterns required is apparently a job in itself.
One interesting element of the Rubik's Cube works is that it's easier to see the patterns through a viewfinder, an artifact of the way cameras collate images. The person in attendance encouraged photography of the works, incidentally. Apparently these images are meant to be shared.