UCLA School of Arts and Architecture

Los Angeles, California, US - 2008

Endothelium is an automated geotextile, a lightweight sculptural field housing arrays of organic batteries housed within a lattice system that might reinforce new growth. The sculpture works as an ‘earth surface machine’ that burrows slowly into the ground and sends out extremely light space-filling lattice material as a growth-supporting matrix. The system employs a dense series of very thin whiskers and vibrating burrowing leg mechanisms, and supports low-power miniature lights, pulsing and shifting in slight increments. Within this distributed matrix, microbial growth is fostered by enriched seed-patches housed within nest-like forms sheltered beneath main lattice units.

Repeating clusters of bladders stand within the field of tripods. The cell wiring is arranged in series, feeding into miniature electronic circuits that gather the weak currents and emit pulses of power when sufficient strength accumulates. Three main component types including main filter-packs, supporting whisker-anchor units, and bladder cells are arranged in a tripod field with clusters of specialized units making a repeating hexagonal array. Weak electrical charges are generated by copper and aluminium electrodes immersed in vinegar within latex bladders within these units. The continuous support-skeleton is composed of minimal-mass bamboo compressing struts arranged as a primitive space-truss, tied in digitally fabricated triangular joints and stabilized by a web of thread and cable tension members. The life of this hybrid organic system erodes during the exhibition.

The sculpture acts in the tradition of the marginalized mid-century American medical doctor Wilhelm Reich, who said “all plasmatic matter perceives, with or without sensory nerves. The amoeba has no sensory or motor nerves, and still it perceives… The terror of the total convulsion, of involuntary movement and spontaneous excitation is joined to the splitting up of organs and organ sensations. This terror is the real stumbling block…”