Berlin, Germany - 2014
Epiphyte Membrane is a suspended canopy installed within the massive concrete spaces of the Opernwerstatten in Berlin, the former set design studios of the Deutsche Staatsoper / German State Opera. The 28m x 4m installation forms part of the group exhibition Photography Playgroundsponsored by Olympus and curated by Leigh Sachwitz of FlauraFaunaVisions.
Two parallel membranes are positioned within the space. The lower membrane is composed of interlinking thermoformed expanded meshwork acrylic spars and hexagonal skeletons that carry densely massed glass vessels, arranged around a central grotto-like area containing an interactive soundwork. Polymer fronds, barbed traps and spine extensions populate the membrane and create a thick, bristling, tapestry-like surface that shelters occupants of the floor areas below. An upper membrane follows the lower layer, containing lightweight veils of needle-like glass and miniature liquid-filled vessels stretching through upper reaches of the space. Soft pillows are arranged within an inner chamber, inviting onlookers to rest within the environment. Dramatic lighting within the darkened space creates a shadow-play on adjacent walls and floor, extending the work into the surrounding reaches of the Opernwerkstatten.
Sound designer Salvador Breed worked in collaboration with the Beesley studio to create a synthetic forest of sound emanating from multiple miniature speakers embedded within the sculptural membrane. Organic power cells using vinegar, copper and aluminum provide weak currents that trigger an array of microprocessors, producing a constantly-shifting field of machine-made whispering sound.