Hylozoic Soil is an interactive architectural sculpture created by Philip Beesley, an architect based in Toronto. It can sense the presence of someone or something using proximity sensors and kinetic actuators, and responds with air movement. The result is an incredibly organic sculpture. So organic that the way people tend to interact with it, shows more resemblance with human-human interaction than human-computer interaction.
Here is a video of the sculpture (there is something wrong with the sound though):
Next to the fact that this sculpture is an incredibly impressive piece of work that interacts and moves in some of the most organic ways I’ve ever seen, it’s also interesting to look at how exactly people interact with it. People tend to move around it in a very careful manner and explore the sculpture using their hands and body movement without loosing their patience. It’s a form of human-computer interaction which we rarely see.
Today’s human-computer interaction is often subject to numerous expectations. If it doesn’t meet these expectations people tend to lose their patience and sometimes even get angry. I guess meeting these expectations is part of ‘user-centered design’. However, we have different expectations from human-human interaction than from human-computer interaction. What a project like Hylozoic Soil shows us is that the more organic human-computer interaction feels like, the more our expectations start resembling those from human-human interaction (in which we take the time to get to know each other, respect each other and often have more patience). A very interesting phenonomen.
More about the sculpture (including more video material) can be found here on Philip Beesley’s website.