Artist Philip Beesley Merges Chemistry, Artificial Intelligence, and Interactivity to Create “Living” Architecture
Multidisciplinary artist and architect Philip Beesley weaves together such a broad array of technologies and systems in his artworks that they legitimately defy description, but the immediate impact of encountering these sprawling interactive installations is visceral and awe-inspiring. His latest work, Astrocyte, connects chemistry, artificial intelligence, and an immersive soundscape to create a living piece of architecture that responds to the presence of viewers. Comprised of 300,000 individual components, the piece was on view against the industrial backdrop at Toronto’s port lands for EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology last October. From a statement about the project:
The structure is made up of resilient, lightweight meshworks of thermally formed acrylic, laser-cut into geometrical patterns optimized for production with minimal waste. This unique space truss system is part of the Living Architecture Systems’ pioneering research into resilient and adaptable structures. Astrocyte’s structural mesh components use overlapping strands of material in doubly-curved conical forms that achieve extraordinary strength from minimal material. These innovative forms are clustered together in bundles that are similar to the multiple filaments spanning between outer and inner shells of natural bone structures.
The piece further incorporates 3D-printed lighting components and masses of custom glasswork that contain a combination of oil, inorganic chemicals, and other solutions to form a sort of chemical skin. At the core of Beesley research is the question of whether architecture can truly be “alive,” opening the possibility for self-repairing structures or deeply responsive organic environments, where artificial intelligence exists at almost every level of design. Regardless of the complexity and heady ideas, the works are deeply aesthetically intriguing, something directly out of science fiction.
Beesley is the director of the Living Architecture Systems Group and a professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. You can explore much more of his work on his website and along with several videos and interviews on Vimeo. (via Colossal Submissions)
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As We Are is a 14-foot interactive sculpture by artist Matthew Mohr. The head-shaped work slowly rotates through a database of faces, displaying a range of Columbus residents and its visitors on 24 horizontal bands of LED screens. The monitors wrap nearly 360 degrees around the piece, leaving a gap for a photo studio where guests can pose for pictures that will be featured on work’s screens.
The sculpture is currently installed in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a public venue primed for eager visitors who wish to see their faces projected more than two times their height. Its appearance reflects a few other body-centric public sculptures, namely David Cerny’s banded replication of Franz Kafka’s head in Prague, and Chicago’s Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa which also displays a rotating cast of faces across a series of LED screens.
“‘As We Are’ presents Columbus as a welcoming, diverse culture where visitors and residents can engage on multiple levels through an interactive experience with public art,” says Mohr in an artist statement about the interactive structure. “It is an open-ended, conceptual piece that explores how we represent ourselves individually and collectively, asking participants to consider their identity in social media and in public. It asks all viewers to contemplate portraits of people from different ethnicities, and gender identities.”
Mohr also explains that the scale and location of the sculpture brings monumental recognition to each featured face, allowing the individual to be memorialized, if only for a few seconds. You can see more projects by the artist and Columbus College of Art and Design professor on his website, and view a video documenting several participants’ interactions with the sculpture below. (via Designboom)
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Transport Cats Across an Animated Countryside With Alexander Perrin’s Interactive Illustration ‘Short Trip’
Short Trip is an interactive illustration by Australian artist Alexander Perrin. The meditative simulation places the player in the conductor’s seat of a cross-country train, allowing the user to use their arrow keys to go forwards or backwards through the game’s peaceful black and white countryside while delivering a series of animated cat passengers.
The illustrated simulation took Perrin five years to complete, from researching how a graphite-based drawing could be presented on a digital platform, to creating all the necessary components of the train’s journey by hand. His interest for this particular scenery came from riding on the Hakone Tozan Railway in Japan, one of his favorite ways of travel.
“It’s a magical, rickety switchback railway that ascends a forest shrouded mountain all throughout the year,” Perrin told Colossal. “There’s something about the beautifully crafted forms of the railway in sculpted union with the cliff faces and trees that just hits such a therapeutic, aesthetic sweet spot. It’s a little bit like riding an enlarged miniature railway, if you know what I mean. You remain passive and enjoy the ride for the sake of the journey.”
The game was built with this passiveness in mind, the only “goal” of the project to get to the other side of the railway while you enjoy the scenery and relaxing soundtrack of gentle bird chirping and cable car as it softly rumbles across the tracks. We recommend make the game full-screen with audio to get the full, tranquil experience of Short Trip.
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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's newest tech tool allows any smartphone user to gain access to the artworks hidden behind their archive doors, a collection so large that it would stretch 121.3 miles if you placed each artwork end-to-end. With only 5% of this collection on view, the museum decided to create Send Me SFMOMA, a texting service that delivers an artwork to your phone based on a sent emoji or phrase. For example, the first emoji I decided to text was a goat, for which they return Takuma Nakahira's 2008 Untitled image of—you guessed it, a goat.
To participate, text the number 572-51 the words “send me” followed by either a keyword (such as a color, emotion, or type of art) or an emoji. A quick response will bring your phone an image of an artwork from SFMOMA’s vast collection, in addition to a caption containing the artist, artwork title, and year. Within the first four days of the program over 3,000 artworks were generated, a larger number than the amount of works currently on view.
The system isn’t perfect, more of my inquiries came back with an error message than an artwork, however the intrigue of seeing a piece that has been tucked away from the public is quite addicting. I especially loved seeing what some of my most used emojis resulted in, such as the single eye which brought Tomoko Sawada's Early Days (1996) to my inbox. (via Hyperallergic)
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Sky Villages, designed by James Paulius, is an interactive installation at the SPARK Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The play center features several stackable modules that can be rearranged as expanding homes—wooden dwellings floating between clouds in an aquamarine sky. The imaginative play area aims to educate children about our planet’s constantly evolving population, offering a space for airborne ideas.
“As Earth’s population increases, we may look to the atmosphere for inhabitable space,” said Paulius. “Sky Villages presents the possibility to dwell in the sky in modular architecture that can be added or removed as populations increase or decrease. Dwelling units are prefabricated with the intent of reuse rather than discardment. When a unit no longer fits the particular needs of its location, it can be moved elsewhere for a new family to reside in. Constantly evolving, these structures accommodate the ever-changing tendencies of humanity and nature.”
The toy homes for Sky Villages were fabricated from wood reclaimed from water towers in Manhattan. You can see more of Paulius’ block-based projects on his portfolio site and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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Prague-based Amanita Design, creators of the award-winning Mechinarium, recently released what may be their best game yet: Samorost 3. This deeply immersive puzzle game spans the ecosystems of 9 unusual planets as you encounter strange inhabitants and unlock increasingly complex secrets to advance to the next level. Amanita Design’s approach to creating completely non-verbal/non-textual games relies heavily on intuition, sound design, and symbolism to create environments that are practically interactive artworks. Samorost 3 is a long-awaited sequel in a series of first released in 2003 and 2005.
The music and sound design specifically are fantastic, and Amita provides all kinds of behind-the-scenes videos showing how they developed the quirky voices for each character and composed the accompanying soundtrack. I’ve only been playing for about two hours or so, but this game is truly wonderful. You can get it from the Apple App Store or download it from their website for your desktops.
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Moving the art viewing experience from a linear surface to a three-dimensional environment, the Art Institute of Chicago is launching an interactive experience alongside their latest exhibition—entry to a full-size replica of Van Gogh’s painting The Bedroom. The room, available on AirBnB starting today, includes all the details of the original painting, arranged in haphazard alignment to imitate the original room.
The installation was built to celebrate the exhibition “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” a show which centers around three paintings of his domestic space he created from 1888 to 1889. The exhibition also serves as the first time the paintings will exist within the same space in North America. The first of the three paintings was produced shortly after moving into his “Yellow House” in Arles, France, yet suffered water damage soon after its completion. Van Gogh painted two other versions of the paintings to preserve the composition, one while at an asylum in Saint-Rémy in 1889 and the other as a present for his mother and sister.
Visitors will experience an immersive journey back to Van Gogh’s Yellow House, which is located outside of the museum’s campus in Chicago’s neighborhood of River North. The bedroom runs for just $10 a night and is part of a larger apartment. Dates will be released through the posting monthly and fill up quickly.
“Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” features approximately 36 works by the artist and will run through May 10, 2016. Make sure to keep updated on new listings for Van Gogh’s bedroom on the Art Institute of Chicago’s Facebook and Instagram page here.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.