The Tropism Well

The Tropism Well by Richard Harvey and Keivor John takes a spin on the organic bending mechanism of plants to give their “well” near human traits. When the structure sees a person approaching, it “bows” in his/her direction through the movement of water (or some other drink) and fills that person’s glass. This well is incredibly well-crafted in my opinion because it does its job of inviting the spectators through its quirky personality and its functionality. Although I may not carry a cup around me at all times, I think this would be much a more pleasurable and sanitary way to distribute water in public places. Some downsides I would worry about are its fragility, its uncovered opening at the top, and perhaps the slow wait for water (especially if there is a line of people viewing it as an art piece). But overall, I would definitely like to see a whole collection of Harvey and John’s solutions to public resource distribution. From there website here: http://www.harveyandjohn.com/, I became immediately fascinated by their ventures into gravity-defying interactive art, which maybe where they got their inspiration for upward moving water, but I can’t see many other pieces that are meant for the outdoors.


Since we are almost on the subject of projection mapping, the Cubepix by Xavi Trivo goes up a level to kinetic projection mapping. They appear to have an array of cardboard boxes that twist and turn with movements coordinated to the projection. In addition, the whole sculpture interacts with the presence in front of it. In fact, Daniel Rozin’s Wooden Mirrors, which I mentioned in my first Looking Outwards, was a source of inspiration for this project. I greatly admire the quickness and sleek movements of the sculpture, which are almost seamlessly in tune with the projection. There seem to be a few boxes that got stuck in the video, but that is pretty minor compared to what they have produced. I also don’t know if I like the cardboard brown color. While it shows the viewer how this project exemplifies “rags to riches”, I don’t think it effectively shows the contrast between analog and electronic media quite like the Wooden Mirrors do. Other than that, I think Xavi’s Lab did a great job creating a piece that viewers will want to play with for a long time. I don’t know if the sound in the video is incorporated in the actual piece, but I think it really adds to the playing experience.

The Singing Plant

In this project, Mads Hobye uses Arduinos inplace of the theremin to make a plant “sing”. He uses a sensor to measure the capacitance of a plant, and if a person touches the plant, that interaction can be converted into sound. I’ve heard of the idea of communicating with animals, plants, and inanimate objects before through electrical pulses, but the fact that a person can build a simple version of such a device with Arduino is really inspiring. The project here is a very basic sensor-output system, but the fact that it’s cute and applicable to any homely plant is quite charming. It allows the viewers to fulfill a dream of “conversing” with the plants they’ve been raising. But on a much larger scale, the capacitance sensor can be used to characterize just about any body that humans wish to have communications. For example, it can be used to create a collection of the “voices” of a forest or ecosystem over time so that people may try to guess what it is saying. I’m thinking of Green messages mostly, but the applications are very far-reaching.

According to his website, Mads Hobye has several large scale installations, including a soundscape playground, as well as many other instructables that serve to disseminate the how-tos of transforming everyday life with digital media. Most of his work involves sound machines, and I can clearly see the theremin as inspiration for this piece.

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