Phillip Beesley, Architect Inc., Sargasso, 2011. Mylar, acrylic, aluminum, latex, glass, custom electronics, Freeduino, and microcontrollers, 36 x 24 x 110 ft.

Phillip Beesley


Allen Lambert Galleria

It was there for 10 days, and then it was gone—a site-specific piece for the Luminato Festival that expanded and enhanced an already spectacular locale, recalculating traditional notions of both art and architecture. Phillip Beesley’s Sargasso was a spiny, feathery cascade of plastic fronds, bulbs, and electronic gear, a wave-like network responding to atmospheric changes in a slow dance with its viewers/partners. It could have been a pathway for an avatar, a cloud, a sea creature, a glacier, a viral mathematical aberration, or a generator of some kind, and while the science intrigued, it was the artistry that captured the imagination. This beautiful thing tumbled down the center of Santiago Calatrava’s soaring atrium. A massive accumulation of white feathery fronds gradually reacted as viewers entered the space. Beakers containing what appeared to be amber liquid were suspended like light bulbs, some blinking on and off, while inflatable sacs imitated lungs as they puffed out and contracted at glacial speed. It was like walking inside a giant benevolent body, its inner workings exposed. Engulfed by seaweed-like ferns, the viewer became agent, an intelligent interface interacting with external stimuli, creating a dynamic and reciprocal relationship between audience and art.…see the entire review in the print version of March’s Sculpture magazine.