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SymbiosisO: Voxel

Thermochromic interactive grids invade Issey Miyake's Tribeca location

by CH Editors in Culture on 11 April 2012

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A bright blue interactive installation has taken over the walls of Issey Miyake's Tribeca storefront. Composed of grids of hexagonal pads or "voxels", Symbiosis0: Voxel responds to body heat or "artifacts" left by users who touch its textile surface. Accompanying the physical responsiveness of the piece is a mobile website that enables users to design a pattern that is displayed across the polygons upon submission. The display, a collaboration between artists Alex Dodge, Kärt Ojavee and Eszter Ozsvald had visitors pressing hands and faces against the shapes and delighting both fashionistas and children alike.

"Issey Miyake’s ability to take traditional designs and techniques and reinvent them through new materials and technology is something we all felt inspired by," relates Alex Dodge. "When we first thought about possible colors for the installation, we found a nice relationship to a traditional Japanese textile dyeing technique known as "shibori"—it's typically indigo blue with white lines. So we found a way of doing something similar with a totally new technology."

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Connected by a series of wires, the royal blue shapes turn bright white on contact, retaining the impression for a few minutes afterwards. As Kärt Ojavee explains, "Every pixel of the honeycomb-structured installation is individually constructed of several layers: covered with silk, the substrate material is felt, and in between are the warming elements. All voxels have two visual states—blue and a highlighted wire-frame of a cube. The silk is coated with thermochromic ink, reacting to body temperature or activated by the middle layer, which is controlled through a web-based interface."

The installation was imagined as an interactive piece that would engage shoppers in a way that traditional art cannot. "People are usually not supposed to touch artworks nor create their own content on the medium," says Eszter Ozsvald. "Suddenly, from a passive listener you become an important part of the installation and your displayed image becomes a part of the interior. I like the fact that you not only take something from the store but you leave a trace, a unique touch behind."

SymbiosisO: Voxel will be on display at Issey Miyake in Tribeca through 28 April 2012. Check out the installation in action by watching our rough cut.

Tribeca Issey Miyake
119 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013

By Greg Stefano and James Thorne.

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