3,691 keys: Heinz Nixdorf as pixel art

For four months, visitors to the HNF donated their old computer keyboards. Peter Schönwandt then used them to create an unusual piece of pixel art: a portrait of Heinz Nixdorf made of 3,691 keys.

Peter Schönwandt, a Frankfurt artist, spent four weeks creating the portrait with keys he received from Paderborn and other sources. After running the keys through a washing machine, Schönwandt carefully sorted them and turned them into a unique piece of art. The different colours of the keys create a graduated and fascinating portrait of the Paderborn entrepreneur. When you take a close look at the picture, you can see the wear left on the keys by their users as well as their different sizes and forms. This creates tension and contrast in the portrait, which, when viewed from a distance, forms a harmonious whole.

Heinz Nixdorf and Konrad Zuse

As he worked in his small studio, Schönwandt had a hard time placing the ever-changing colours correctly without being able to view the entire work from the distance. Ultimately, he managed to arrange the different white, grey and black tones in a way that created a full portrait. He based his work on a 1984 photo that showed Heinz Nixdorf in his company.

You will find this portrait on the third floor of the HNF in front of the department dedicated to the history of Nixdorf Computer AG. Another work by Peter Schönwandt is displayed one floor down. It shows Konrad Zuse, an inventor of computers, in the Hall of Fame.

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