56-Foot-Tall Honeycomb Structure

Structure Responds to the Buzzing of Bees Within London’s Kew Gardens


Forty-four tons of aluminum was just transported and installed at London’s Kew Gardens, a beehive-inspired structure produced by the artist Wolfgang Buttress in partnership with designer and engineer Tristan Simmonds. “The Hive” was originally built as a centerpiece for the UK Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015 where it won the gold award for architecture and landscape. The installation both aesthetically and symbolically represents its namesake, aiming to demonstrate to visitors the importance of protecting the honeybee.

Standing nearly 56-feet-tall the work is located just beyond the gardens’ wildflower meadow, drawing visitors into the structure in the same way worker bees might return back to the hive after a long day of pollinating. In addition to being composed of thousands of pieces of metal, “The Hive” is dotted with hundreds of LED lights that coordinate with a soundtrack of buzzing from within the hive. These elements illuminate and hum in response to real bees housed at Kew, giving visitors a peek into the minute-by-minute energy and mood levels of the gardens’ bees.

Berlin-based photographer Dacian Groza was one of the photographers documenting the installation, and took many of the photographs seen here. Educated as an architect, he has a unique eye for the buildings and installations he documents, bringing special attention to timing and composition. You can see more of his architectural images on his website and Instagram.

“The Hive” reopens at the Kew Gardens on June 18, 2016 and will be open to the public through November 2017.









undulating owan

kengo kuma's undulating owan pavilion blends architecture and nature

kengo kuma’s undulating owan pavilion blends architecture and nature
all images courtesy of  galerie philippe gravier




as part of the design at large program at design miami/basel 2016, galerie philippe gravier presents ‘owan’ by japanese architect kengo kuma. the project seeks to create a harmonious relationship between architecture and landscape. in response to the parisian gallery’s ongoing ‘small nomad house project’, kuma has devised a nomadic, removable, sustainable, and zigzag-shaped dwelling that blends interior and exterior space.


drawing from the aesthetic of traditional japanese tea bowls and fish scales, ‘owan’ introduces a variety of spatial experiences for those it surrounds. its metal shell has an undulating and adjustable edge that allows it to seamlessly blend with its environment, while it is light enough to subtly and softly move in the wind. lined with a waterproof membrane, the pavilion’s framework is structurally malleable — upon application of heat, a memory alloy allows the form to bend to a desired manipulated position. ‘owan’ sees technical and aesthetic innovation come together to embody an ‘urban revolution’, where interactive technology, micro-architecture and architectural performance meet.

kengo kuma owan pavilion
the project seeks to create a harmonious relationship between architecture and landscape

kengo kuma owan pavilion
the shell has an unclear edge that merges the metal with the natural environment

kengo kuma owan pavilion
the dwelling is nomadic, removable and sustainable

kengo kuma owan pavilion
‘owan’ is presented at design miami/basel 2016 by galerie philippe gravier

kengo kuma owan pavilion
the form is drawn from the aesthetic of traditional japanese tea bowls and fish scales

kengo kuma owan pavilion
‘owan’ creates a variety of spatial experiences for those it surrounds

kengo kuma owan pavilion
its metal shell has an undulating edge that allows it to seamlessly blend with the environment

kengo kuma owan pavilion
the structure is light enough to subtly and softly move in the wind

kengo kuma owan pavilion
lined with a waterproof membrane, ‘owan’s’ framework is structurally malleable

kengo kuma owan pavilion
upon application of heat, the form bends to a desired, manipulated position

architectural soft skin

‘soft skin’ is a research project developed by lubna alayeli, nina jotanovic, ceren temel, and farah alayeli from the institute for advanced architecture of catalonia. the work investigates the possibilities of using air inflation in architecture as an active response to changing environmental parameters. the ‘skin’ is composed of a specially developed composite made of thin layers of flexible silicone and elastic fabric.

soft skin institute of advanced architecture catalonia designboom

‘soft skin’ prototype

How Long Does a Neuron Live?


Is the lifespan of a neuron proportional to the lifespan of its species?

While biologists know the average expectation of life of most of the cells of our body, they have not yet discovered the average lifetime of neurons. The main reason for this lies in the fact that neurons are not able to reproduce. Recently, an Italian team of researchers wanted to verify whether the average lifetime of a neuron is (or is not) proportional to the average lifetime of the species to which it belongs.

In order to further investigate this, the scientists transplanted neurons obtained from mice embryos (genetically modified in such a way that they could be easily spotted through the production of a fluorescent protein) into the brains of rats. A mouse lives about 1.5 years, while a rat can live up to 3 years. So if neurons have an average life proportioned to the average lifetime of the species it belongs, one should not expect to find traces of them in brain of rats after 1.5 years.

However, the results of this study, published by the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, have shown with great surprise that, after 1.5 years, the fluorescent transplanted neurons were still present in the brain of rats. This shows that the average lifetime of neurons does not depend on the average lifetime of the species it belongs to.

And what’s more; while aging, neurons lose connections among them, called synapses, with a velocity that depends on the species. In addition, the researchers have shown that neurons transplanted into the brains of rats lose connections with a velocity that is more similar to the one of rats, then to the one of mice. Hence “neurons are ageless” and their health is highly influenced by the conditions in which they live.

Magrassi L, Leto K, & Rossi F (2013). Lifespan of neurons is uncoupled from organismal lifespan Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1217505110

Adult Neurons do keep growing


Here is the first sentence of the article:

“The apocryphal tale that you can’t grow new brain cells just isn’t true.”

More and more statements like these are popping up all over the world of fundamental neurosciences.

I encourage you to read on, directly from the LiveScience web site, they have gorgeous photos and animations.

You can add this to your arsenal of articles to show your friends and your doctors, those who still struggle to reconsider their belief that the nervous system is the only part of the body that does not renew itself.

I also would like to highlight this part of the article:

“The researchers observed the part of the brain responsible for vision, called the visual cortex, over the course of a few months. In order to see directly into the brain, the researchers implanted glass windows over two areas of the visual cortex while the mice were still young.”

Now you understand why this type of research on humans is simply impossible. Fortunately, the brain of a rat behaves 99% the same way as a human brain would in the same

Here is the link: Full Article

A History of Computer Art

A History of Computer Art

Ben Laposky, 'Oscillon 40', 1952. Museum no. E.958-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Ben Laposky, ‘Oscillon 40’, 1952. Museum no. E.958-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince


In the 1950s, many artists and designers were working with mechanical devices and analogue computers in a way that can be seen as a precursor to the work of the early digital pioneers who followed.

One of the earliest electronic works in the V&A’s collection is ‘Oscillon 40’ dating from 1952. The artist, Ben Laposky, used an oscilloscope to manipulate electronic waves that appeared on the small fluorescent screen. An oscilloscope is a device for displaying the wave shape of an electric signal, commonly used for electrical testing purposes. The waves would have been constantly moving and undulating on the display, and there would have been no way of recording these movements on paper at this time. It was only through long exposure photography that the artist was able to record these fleeting moments, allowing us to see them decades later.

Laposky photographed numerous different combinations of these waves and called his images ‘Oscillons’. The earliest photographs were black and white, but in later years the artist used filters in order to produce striking colour images such as ‘Oscillon 520’.

Ben Laposky, 'Oscillon 520', 1960, Museum no. E.1096-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V

‘Oscillon 520’, by Ben Laposky, US, 1960. Museum no. E.1096-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince


In the early 1960s computers were still in their infancy, and access to them was very limited. Computing technology was heavy and cumbersome, as well as extremely expensive. Only research laboratories, universities and large corporations could afford such equipment. As a result, some of the first people to use computers creatively were computer scientists or mathematicians.

Many of the earliest practitioners programmed the computer themselves. At this time, there was no ‘user interface’, such as icons or a mouse, and little pre-existing software. By writing their own programs, artists and computer scientists were able to experiment more freely with the creative potential of the computer.

Early output devices were also limited. One of the main sources of output in the 1960s was the plotter, a mechanical device that holds a pen or brush and is linked to a computer that controls its movements. The computer would guide the pen or brush across the drawing surface, or, alternatively, could move the paper underneath the pen, according to instructions given by the computer program.

Another early output device was the impact printer, where ink was applied by force onto the paper, much like a typewriter.

John Lansdown using a Teletype (an electro-mechanical typewriter), about 1969-1970. Courtesy the estate of John Lansdown

John Lansdown using a Teletype (an electro-mechanical typewriter), about 1969-1970. Courtesy the estate of John Lansdown

Much of the early work focused on geometric forms and on structure, as opposed to content. This was, in part, due to the restrictive nature of the available output devices, for example, pen plotter drawings tended to be linear, with shading only possible through cross hatching. Some early practitioners deliberately avoided recognisable content in order to concentrate on pure visual form. They considered the computer an autonomous machine that would enable them to carry out visual experiments in an objective manner.

Both plotter drawings and early print-outs were mostly black and white, although some artists, such as computer pioneer Frieder Nake, did produce plotter drawings in colour. Early computer artists experimented with the possibilities of arranging both form and, occasionally, colour in a logical fashion.

‘Hommage à Paul Klee 13/9/65 Nr.2’, a screenprint of a plotter drawing created by Frieder Nake in 1965, was one of the most complex algorithmic works of its day. An algorithmic work is one that is generated through a set of instructions written by the artist. Nake took his inspiration from an oil- painting by Paul Klee, entitled ‘Highroads and Byroads’ (1929), now in the collection of the Ludwig Museum, Cologne.

Frieder Nake, 'Hommage à Paul Klee 13/9/65 Nr.2', 1965. Museum no. E.951-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V

Frieder Nake, ‘Hommage à Paul Klee 13/9/65 Nr.2’, 1965. Museum no. E.951-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Nake had trained originally in mathematics and was interested in the relationship between the vertical and the horizontal elements of Klee’s painting. When writing the computer program to create his own drawing ‘Hommage à Klee’, Nake defined the parameters for the computer and the pen plotter to draw, such as the overall square form of the drawing. He then deliberately wrote random variables into the program which allowed the computer to make choices of its own, based on probability theory. In this way, Nake was able to explore how logic could be used to create visually exciting structures and to explore the relationship between forms. The artist could not have predicted the exact appearance of the drawing until the plotter had finished.

Bell Laboratories

Bell Labs, now based in New Jersey, was hugely influential in initiating and supporting the early American computer-art scene and produced perhaps the greatest number of key early pioneers. Artists and computer scientists who worked there include Claude Shannon, Ken Knowlton, Leon Harmon, Lillian Schwartz, Charles Csuri, A. Michael Noll, Edward Zajec, and Billy Klüver, an engineer who also collaborated with Robert Rauschenberg to form Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT). The Laboratory began life as Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. in 1925 and went on to become the leading authority in the field of new technologies.

Bell Labs was heavily involved in the emerging art and technology scene, in particular it contributed to a series of performances entitled ‘9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering’ organised by EAT in 1966. The performances saw 10 contemporary artists join forces with 30 engineers and scientists from Bell Labs to host a series of performances using new technologies. Events such as these represent important early recognition by the mainstream art world of the burgeoning relationship between art and technology. The executive director of Bell Labs was employed as an ‘agent’ for EAT, his task to spread the word about the organisation in the right circles, namely industry. As a result, many artists and musicians used the equipment at Bell Labs out of hours.

Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton, 'Studies in Perception', 1997 (original image 1967). Museum no. E.963-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton, ‘Studies in Perception’, 1997 (original image 1967). Museum no. E.963-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Amongst many things, Bell Labs was particularly influential in the development of early computer-generated animation. In the 1960s, the laboratories housed an early microfilm printer that was able to expose letters and shapes onto 35mm film. Artists such as Edward Zajec began to use the equipment to make moving films. Whilst working at Bell Labs, computer scientist and artist Ken Knowlton developed the programming language BEFLIX- the name stands for Bell Flicks – that could be used for bitmap film making.

One of the most famous works to come out of Bell Labs was Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton’s Studies in Perception, 1967, also known as Nude.

Harmon and Knowlton decided to cover the entire wall of a senior colleague’s office with a large print, the image of which was made up of small electronic symbols that replaced the grey scale in a scanned photograph. Only by stepping back from the image (which was 12 feet wide), did the symbols merge to form the figure of a reclining nude. Although the image was hastily removed after their colleague returned, and even more hastily dismissed by the institution’s PR department, it was leaked into the public realm, first by appearing at a press conference in the loft of Robert Rauschenberg, and later emblazoned across the New York Times. What had started life as a work-place prank became an overnight sensation.

The Slade Computer System, about 1977. Courtesy of Paul Brown

The Slade Computer System, about 1977. Courtesy of Paul Brown


By the 1970s, a number of artists had begun to teach themselves to program, rather than relying on collaborations with computer programmers. Many of these artists came to the computer from a traditional fine art background, as opposed to the scientific or mathematical background of the earliest practitioners. Artists were attracted to the logical nature of the computer and the processes involved.

In the early 1970s the Slade School of Art, University of London, established what was later called the ‘Experimental and Computing Department’. The Slade was one of the few institutions that attempted to fully integrate the use of computers in art into its teaching curriculum during the 1970s. The department offered unparalleled resources with its in-house computer system.

Paul Brown studied at the Slade from 1977 to 1979. His computer-generated drawings, use individual elements that evolve or propagate in accordance with a set of simple rules. Brown developed a tile-based image generating system. Despite using relatively simple forms, it would have taken a long time to write a program to produce a work such as this.

Paul Brown, 'Untitled Computer Assisted Drawing', 1975. Museum no. E.961-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Paul Brown, ‘Untitled Computer Assisted Drawing’, 1975. Museum no. E.961-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince

Manuel Barbadillo, 'Untitled', about 1972. Museum no. E.158-2008. Given by the Computer Arts Society, supported by System Simulation Ltd, London

Manuel Barbadillo, ‘Untitled’, about 1972. Museum no. E.158-2008. Given by the Computer Arts Society, supported by System Simulation Ltd, London

Snelson, 'Forest Devils' MoonNight' (detail), 1989, Museum no. 
E.1046-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through 
the generosity of Patric Prince

Kenneth Snelson, ‘Forest Devils’ MoonNight’ (detail), 1989, Museum no. E.1046-2008. Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Patric Prince


The 1980s saw digital technologies reach into everyday life, with the widespread adoption of computers for both business and personal use. Computer graphics and special effects began to be used in films such as ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ and ‘Tron’, both 1982, as well as in television programmes. Combined with the popularity of video and computer games, computing technology began to be a much more familiar sight at home, as well as at work.

The late 1970s had seen the births of both Apple and Microsoft and the appearance of some of the first personal computers. PCs were now available that were affordable and compact, and ideal for household use. Alongside this, inkjet printers developed to become the cheapest method of printing in colour. The development of off-the-shelf paint software packages meant it was much simpler to create images using the computer. As this new medium entered popular culture, the type of art being produced changed. Much of the new work of this period demonstrated a clear ‘computer aesthetic’, seemingly more computer-generated in its appearance.

This image by Kenneth Snelson was created using a 3D computer animation program. The image forms the left side of a stereoscopic image. Accompanied by a near identical image placed to its right and viewed simultaneously, the two images would have created the illusion of a 3D environment.

1990s onwards

James Faure Walker, 'Dark Filament' (detail), 2007. Museum no. E.147-2009. Given by James Faure Walker

James Faure Walker, ‘Dark Filament’ (detail), 2007. Museum no. E.147-2009. Given by James Faure Walker

The term ‘Computer Art’ is used less frequently to describe artists and designers working with the computer today. Many artists who now work with computers incorporate this technology into their practice as just one tool amongst many that they may use interchangeably. This is part of a more general shift towards artists and designers working in an increasingly interdisciplinary manner. Many no longer define themselves as practitioners of a specific media.James Faure Walker can be described as both a digital artist and a painter. Since the late 1980s Faure Walker has been integrating the computer into his practice as a painter, incorporating computer-generated images into his paintings, as well as painterly devices into his digital prints. He moves between the tools of drawing, painting, photography and computer software, blending and exploiting the different characteristics of each. His work frequently plays on the contrast between physical paint and digital paint, and sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the two.

Faure Walker aims to complete at least one drawing each day, either in pencil, pen or watercolour. These drawings are always abstract, and have their roots in gestural mark making, rather than being figurative drawings of objects. In the same way, the artist uses software packages such as Illustrator and Photoshop to explore digital motifs, or linear marks and patterns. A motif that has been created digitally might then be projected onto a canvas using a digital projector, where the artist can begin experimenting with the pattern or motif in the physical medium of paint. Faure Walker creates digital photographs of his paintings in progress, so that he can try out changes and additions on the computer before adding them to the canvas. He applies this same method to his production of large digital prints such as ‘Dark Filament’, incorporating found imagery such as a botanical illustration.

Life in Glass Houses

Diatoms – Life in glass houses


Champions of photosynthesis, these unicellular organisms appeared at the time of dinosaurs.

They produce a quarter of the oxygen we breathe.


Diatoms capture solar energy and produce a quarter of our planet’s oxygen. Despite their tough, siliceous shells, these phytoplankton are abundant food for copepods and are at the base of the marine food chain. Diatoms are single-celled organisms with nuclei and chloroplasts. They are protists living individually or forming chains, zig zags or spirals. The first diatoms – the centrics – appeared in the Jurassic age some 200 million years ago, as combinations of yeast-like organisms and algae. Over the eons,diatoms acquired new genes, shapes and complex metabolisms. They’ve become champions of photosynthesis, while retaining many properties of animal cells. With other photosynthetic protists, they produce oxygen and absorb CO2. Over millions of years, diatom shells have sunk to the seabed, forming thick layers of silica and fossil fuels. 65 million years ago, diatoms survived the mass extinction of dinosaurs. They adapted to polar regions, where they still proliferate. Pennate diatoms appeared later and colonized new ecological niches. Some can glide over surfaces and congregate into a very thin layer called a biofilm. Pennates produce special metabolites and toxins that can ravage aquafarms. When the sun shines, if iron and silica abound, diatoms flourish by dividing into smaller and smaller units. Survival demands that size be restored. Miniature diatoms transform into male and female gametes that join together and give birth to children much bigger than their parents. Proliferation of diatoms at the poles result into explosive blooms visible from outerspace.