Generative art for a book on the cult Netflix sci-fi series

Applied Works collaborated with designer Zoë Bather on Inside Black Mirror, the first official book about the cult Netflix series. Using a series of code-based filters, we developed a visual aesthetic for the book’s chapter openers, inspired by Charlie Brooker’s nightmarish visions of our relationship with technology.

Tech-driven approach

The Black Mirror anthology examines society’s increasing dependency on new technology, and the potential for chaos when we lose control of it. We wanted to reflect this theme by building a series of digital filters to deconstruct or regenerate a base image from each episode, allowing us to relinquish a certain level of control over the visual aesthetic.

BM Interactive Elements Research CS 01 copy 3
BM wetproofs2
BM wetproofs5
Inside Black Mirror 11 5 Nosedive Detail 16 9

Emoji filter

Our emoji mosaic filter redraws stills from the show as a tapestry of emojis, tailored to reflect the theme of the episode – 15 Million Merits for instance, is created from hundreds of bicycles, microphones, notes and stars.

Inside Black Mirror 22 5 USS Callister Detail

Vector filter

Our vector explosion filter uses core motifs from different episodes, like the White Bear icon, and explodes them across the page.

White Bear after
White Bear before
Inside Black Mirror 28 5 Metalhead Detail
Inside Black Mirror 24 5 Arkangel Detail

Pixel sorting

The pixel sorting filter deconstructs the base image into layers using brightness thresholds, then sorts each pixel in an area by colour.

National Anthem after
National Anthem before

Offset filter

The colour offset filter splits images into their component RGB values, redrawing each channel in a screen of different shapes with a slight offset and transparency to create layering effects.

Entire History after
Entire History before

19 Chapters

We applied the four base filters across the title page and 19 chapters, creating a varied but cohesive set of artwork.

Inside Black Mirror 03 title
Inside Black Mirror 04 National Anthem
Inside Black Mirror 05 15m Merits
Inside Black Mirror 06 Entire History
Inside Black Mirror 07 BRB
Inside Black Mirror 07 5 White Bear2
Inside Black Mirror 08 Waldo2
Inside Black Mirror 10 Xmas
Inside Black Mirror 11 Nosedive
Inside Black Mirror 13 Playtest
Inside Black Mirror 14 Shut Up
Inside Black Mirror 17 San Junipero
Inside Black Mirror 19 Men Against Fire
Inside Black Mirror 20 Hated
Inside Black Mirror 22 USS Callister
Inside Black Mirror 24 Arkangel
Inside Black Mirror 25 Crocodile
Inside Black Mirror 27 Hang The DJ
Inside Black Mirror 28 Metalhead2
Inside Black Mirror 31 Black Museum2
Zoë Bather and Applied Works have given Inside Black Mirror a suitably eerie aesthetic

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Digital afterlife

To coincide with the release of Bandersnatch, a new, interactive episode of Black Mirror released in December 2018, we built a website where users can create looping GIFs using three of the four book filters, giving the chapter openers a digital afterlife. Users can pick any of the source images from the 19 episodes used in the book, along with Bandersnatch, or use their own image to create a looping GIF to share on social media.