Biophilic Fantasies


This installation explores the relationship between the human desire to connect with nature (due to our evolutionary roots from nature), and the forces that cause us to simulate it (economic, environmental scarcity, urbanism, etc).

In the same way that biophilia creates a set of design guidelines for designers to tap into the innate needs of their visitors (ie by creating “non rhythmic sensory stimuli”) without necessarily incorporating the “real” stimuli- (ie, creating a wind simulating HVAC system rather than using an actual breeze, or putting plastic plants on the table rather than placing living plants) this project proposes to examine and incorporate a set of objects, experiences, and environmental conditions that capture both “real” nature (ie, the real smell of moss,) and “simulated nature” (ie artificial air freshener smell of moss).

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, this installation will look at our love affair with nature through the lens of emulation. Biophilic elements are presented in a gradient of the "real" and "simulated", organized within a gridded superstructure that is orthogonal, organized, as a counterpart to the visual complexity of all the green elements. The “faked natural” elements included range from visual, audio, olfactory and haptic, (such as through breeze, water, and lighting elements.)

 The entire structure will be organized by the core biophilic design principles, and aim to be multisensory:

1. Visual Connection with Nature 2. Non-Visual Connection with Nature 3. Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli 4. Thermal & Airflow Variability 5. Presence of Water 6. Dynamic & Diffuse Light 7. Connection with Natural Systems Natural Analogues Patterns 8. Biomorphic Forms & Patterns 9. Material Connection with Nature 10. Complexity & Order Nature of the Space Patterns 11. Prospect 12. Refuge 13. Mystery 14. Risk/Peril

One hope is for the visitor to feel the positive effects of a biophilic encounter by the end of the experience, while questioning one’s own relationship to real vs simulated experiences.  It is of interest in this project to create an experience in which one can question the the effectiveness of a simulation and its ability to fool our own biologies-- afterall, to achieve the calm/ serenity from an encounter with a sunlamp, our own bodies have been fooled into producing the corresponding biochemicals (dopamine, serotonin, etc) in reality.  Part of the exhibit can also evoke the possibility that this is a possible future resulting from climate change- there could be a day when most of our “natural” encounters are simulated.

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This piece was commissioned through MOD Unisa for their exhibition Hedonism.