When human-computer interaction becomes more organic

An interactive architectural sculpture that can sense someone’s presence.

Related posts:

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.

Dennis Koks

Dennis Koks (1987, The Netherlands) is a designer | conceptual thinker for interactive media and co-founder of Transparent Spaces. Dennis is fascinated about the social impact of interactive design and how it can improve our daily lives.

5 comments on this article

  1. anton on

    Nice sculpture.
    I don’t agree with your conclusion. It’s not because the thing is organic that people have patience. It’s because they don’t use it as a tool, they don’t expect any value from it. It’s because people haven’t set themselves any goals. They are still open minded.

  2. Hi Anton,

    I believe it goes both ways. They interact with it differently because they don’t use it as a tool. But the fact that it’s so organic also causes changes in the way people interact with it, even if it was only about the sheer fact that people forget they’re interacting with a computer.

  3. Pieter on

    Didn’t we see this when people started interacting with Tamagotchi’s a long time ago?
    In my opinion the way people interact with less ‘organic’ devices such as their bike, remote control or any other in-animate object is not that different. I see people yelling at their computerscreen when something goes wrong daily and that’s a very human way of communicating. you seem to draw the line between positive versus negative emotions in man-machine interaction.
    The assumption that interaction between people is not so much influenced by expactations is wrong I think.

    PS nice sculpture though

  4. Yesterday Studio Roosegaarde showed their Liquid Space 6.0 installation, which is simpler… but quite similar to this idea. It’s nice how people explore and respond to the device, translating movement and sound of a machine into emotions.

  5. Actuators are really needed for complex tasks in the high power market.If the load requires accurate positioning, the electric actuators as well as the valve actuators has the advantage among others…