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Hylosoic Soil the work of Philip Beesley


Philip Beesley is architect working in Toronto and Southern Ontario. His work includes public buildings, development planning, commercial facilities and offices, and residences, but his work in the last two decades has focused on field-oriented sculpture and landscape installations, with extensions in stage design and buildings.His Sculptural work has focused on lightweight ‘textile’ environments, and landscape installations. ‘Hylozoic Soil’ recently Levitra Online won first place for the 11th annual VIDA competition on Art and Artificial Life held by the Fundación Telefónica.

Philip is also associated with the University of Waterloo, were he is a professor of architecture and shares responsibility for the Integrated Centre for Visualization, Design and Manufacturing, a high-performance computer and rapid-prototyping facility.

Hylosoic Soil
The glass-like fragility of this artificial forest, built of an intricate lattice of small transparent acrylic tiles, is visually breathtaking. Its frond extremities arch uncannily towards those who venture into its midst, reaching out to stroke and be stroked like the feather or fur or hair of some mysterious animal. In keeping with Beesley’s own description, his enchanted environment complies with the laws and cycles that determine the millennial assembly of a coral reef, with its cycles of opening, clamping, filtering and digesting. Capacitance-sensing whiskers and shape-memory alloy actuators create a diffuse peristaltic pumping motion, luring visitors in to the every  shimmering depths of a forest of light. Hylozoic Soil implements a distributed sensor network driven by dozens of microprocessors, generating waves of reflexive responses to those drawn into its vast array of acrylic fern stalagmites. Different levels of programmed activity encourage the emergence of coordinated spatial behavior: thirty-eight controller boards produce specific responses to local action, while a bus controller uses sensor activity collated from all the boards to command an additional “global” level of behaviour. The forest thus manifests a haunting, breathing organicity, as it stirs to envelop and charm its human explorers. In keeping with the tradition of biologist artist Ernst Haeckel’s Riddle of the Universe (1899), which traced actions of organic and inorganic nature alike back to natural causes and laws, Beesley’s Hylozoic Soil stands as a magically moving contemporary symbol of our aptitude for empathy and the creative projection of living systems.

The Roadshow interview with Philip Beesley from The Roadshow on Vimeo.

Hylozoic Soil from Karen Siemers on Vimeo.