A direct-view display comprising an array of micro-mechanical modulators is disclosed, he modulator used to form the display comprises a suspended, vertically moving membrane and a substrate. The device functions based on optical interference effects between the membrane and the substrate which cause the modulator to either substantially reflect or absorb an optical signal. The interference effects are a function of the size of the air gap between the membrane and substrate, which varies as the membrane moves. The membrane moves in response to a data signal, representative of an image, delivered to the modulator. The display generates an image based on the pattern of light and dark sections of the display corresponding to the reflectivity of each modulator at a given point in time.