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Hylozoic Soil
by Philip Beesley & Rob Gorbet
, Canada, 2007
The first prize at the VIDA 11.0 AWARDS (created by the Telefónica Foundation, Madrid, Spain) in 2009

Application of New Technologies

Architect Philip Beesley, professor at the University of Waterloo, and Robert Gorbet, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo, awarded the first prize at the eleventh edition of the prize for artistic creations based on new technologies and artificial life, the Vida 11.0, founded by the Madrid based Telefónica Foundation.

A breathtaking and haunting forest

Hylozoic Soil is a glass-like artificial forest, built of an intricate lattice of small transparent acrylic tiles. This shimmering forest of light is looking breathtaking! If you are going into the forest its extremities arch towards you. It is reaching out to stroke and be stroked like the feather or fur or hair of some mysterious animal.

The forest is made of a sensor network driven by dozens of microprocessors, generating waves of reflexive responses to the visitor. The network is programmed to produce specific responses to local action, while a bus controller uses sensor activity collated from all the boards to command an additional “global” level of behaviour. Check out details

Video: Hylozoic Soil by Philip Beesley & Rob Gorbet, Canada, 2007. The mechanical components of the 'forest' respond to the visitor's movement; by

About VIDA Awards spaces of art and creation in accordance with today’s needs

The term "artificial life" was coined in 1987 by Christopher Langton, who was then the director of a laboratory workshop in Los Alamos (New Mexico) that carried out artistic projects that explored the diffuse boundary between technology and biology. In the 20 years following those beginnings, works of artificial life have entered daily life: digital creatures that evolve in virtual spaces, robots that react like human beings, digital pets … The international VIDA Awards have showcased throughout these years works that allow interaction by the user, pieces that operate autonomously, robots that sweat, genetically modified animals: instruments playing “visual music,” robotic and sound sculptures, electromagnetic waves turned into points of light, works of net art, plants that grow in step with the stock market, machines that whistle and interpret human whistles.

"These unique projects," says Daniel Canogar, artistic director of the awards, "reflect on how technology and biology in our culture are becoming ever more indistinguishable."

"One of the most complex issues in this new context is, unquestionably, the profound question about the relationship between the new technologies and our identity as human beings in the future. New technologies have opened up broad horizons for experimentation and innovation, and contemporary artists have inevitably echoed this context in their works," Francisco Serrano, General Director of the Telefónica Foundation.

Exhibiton off- and online
In collaboration with the Art Department of the Municipal Council of Madrid, the Telefónica Foundation presented the awarded works of art of the international competition VIDA 11.0 from 11th to 12th February 2009 at Matadero Madrid. The works from 10 years are published on the website. During the last years, projects of 707 artists from more than 30 countries were submitted to the VIDA competition and more than 100 works of art were rewarded.


For Vida 11.0, a great number of works are focusing on the environment with ecological issues. Other highlights of the current competition are works of art related to social systems and to the urban environment. Until 10th March 2009 you can vote for your favorite project to get the Audience Award on



Sawetz (C) 2009