This week I had the pleasure of experiencing Philip Beesley‘s “Hylozoic Soil” exhibit at Vida 11 in Madrid, Spain. Beesley was the recipient of the 1st prize award at this years VIDA 11 Art and Artificial Life competition. Hylozoism, btw, is the belief that all matter has life. His project “Hylozoic Soil” is a responsive environment woven from thin sheets of laser cut acrylic and integrated with micrcontrollers, proximity sensors and shape-memory alloy actuators. The environment resembles deep-sea coral that sway, twitch, and occasionally furl and unfurl its translucent tendrils. As you cautiously weave in and out of the breathing and palpitating installation, the experience of the piece is both eerie and awe-spiring. The environment is at the same time friend and foe: I couldn’t determine if the the wispy tendrils gently caressing my skin were an act of seduction or one of malicious predation.
I also had the pleasure of meeting the Canadian artist Philip Beesley himself. Beesley’s interests center around developing responsive architectural environments and interactive systems made from light-weight “textile” structures. His work is often kinetic, organic in form and emotional. You can review a number of Beesley’s interactive sculptures here. If you live in or around Madrid, you must go see the VIDA 11 exhibit at the Matadero. Beesley’s installation certainly won’t disappoint but the other exhibits are just as equally engaging.