Monday, May 26, 2008

Hylozoic Soil

Again, a post on physically transforming structures. And again, featuring an artist/architect who was featured at MoMA's exhibition ' Design and the Elastic Mind'.  Philip Beesley makes organic installations that seem to make spaces come alive.

A recent work, Hylozoic soil, is based on hylozoism, the philosophical view that all matter contains life. It is an interactive space that exhibits complex behaviour as you walk through it, as if it wants to absorb you. There are nitinol-activated arms which gently move in reaction to people's behaviour, and pillars that seem to breathe, thus creating an intimate connection between man and machine, rendering the whole a seemingly hybrid organism.

What I like about Philip Beesley is his multisidedness; he integrates an artistic vision, high technology, and unique aesthetics, while also using analytical, rational processes towards the design of his structures, inspired by for example Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Hoberman. What could be expanded upon a lot is the extent of this integration; the behaviour is still quite minimal and seems dictated by technical constraints, as does the visual appearance. The materials used in his structures seem still quite mechanical and hard, much like a frozen spider web. For me it would be a brilliant piece if he would work on a structure that has a seamless soft skin, with an entire decentralized sensor network embedded into it, making for a richly responsive system that could give you really the experience you were part of the digestive system of a technological organism. But maybe that's a little too direct for him. I can also see his structures grow autonomously, perhaps fed by, metaphorically speaking, the empathy the structure gets from the people interacting with it, so the effect is a cross-nurturing of man and machine.

To make this happen of course many disciplines will need to join hands intensively. Especially I'm thinking of genetic engineering for this stuff. Let the great convergence begin!

Make sure to check out his Youtube page if you want to see the installations in action:

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