Flowers are organs of plant procreation – they attract insects to act as vectors for fertilisation. But flowers also appeal
Flowers are organs of plant procreation - they attract insects to act as vectors for fertilisation. But flowers aslo appeal to humans. To us, a flower’s beauty is defining of all that is pure and joyful in the world. The majesty of the annual – the flower that blooms with all its vitality for one short moment before withering away – plays out the tragedy of life in a single act: ‘we grow, we are beautiful, we die’. The solitary flower domesticated in a pot is emblematic of suburban iconography. Flowerpots are living garden objects that we have brought closer to us, onto the patio, where we can tend them carefully and enjoy their presence at close quarters.
The squared-off flowers of Floribots are well removed from the organic domain. They are mechanoids. However, in a way they too can play out the drama of life and death – bloom and wither – and they can show us other things as well...
Floribots consists of 128 computer-controlled robot origami flowers arranged in an eight-by-sixteen grid spread over thirty-five square metres of floor space. Each robot flower is able to extend telescopically from a rest condition to grow one metre vertically, then suddenly invert its origami ‘flower’ into an open bloom state. The unit can also re-contract back down into its latent state and refold its origami bloom back into the bud condition.
Floribots acts as an interactive collective organism with ‘hive mind’ characteristics. It is capable of sensing audience movement and of adapting its behaviours accordingly. It is a ‘field of flowers’ that dances in unison, with choreography provided by its embedded microcontroller. The flower matrix can exhibit complex wave propagation behaviours as well as describing responsive surface features and entering periods of chaotic motion. The Floribot mind is able to control transitions between these states and can ‘learn’ as it runs over time by acclimatising itself to an installation site and developing a particular set of behaviour preferences.
Photography: Geoffrey Drake-Brockman