Overview

Mutopia has germinated and is evolving, creating an intentional place of growth, mystery and possibility. Starting as one strange Seedpod, Mutopia grew and sent out a runner root touching down with its node, and a new Seedpod was formed. Each successive plant repeats this process, evolving as it matures and remaining connected to the whole by a long umbilical-like root structure. Its evolution is not just mere mutation and adaptation, it is willfully incorporating features and forms of the plants, animals, and machines it interacts with in its surroundings. Through this absorption Mutopia elaborates its form, incorporating these elements into its future stages of growth. In a very direct way, participant interaction is influencing the growth of this life form and helping something new emerge. Thirteen generative Seedpods illustrate this new evolutionary concept of intentional and interactive evolution. Metals are reshaped into a sinuous evolving form growing in a giant spiraling formation. Mutopia entices one to enter its space, interact and contribute to its informed patterns of growth.

“Sprouted seeds are food fit for a King, yet they are within the means of the veriest pauper.” D.R.Hiatt

Mutopia is a spiraling sculptural installation of Seedpods laid out according to the Golden Ratio, a proportion found throughout art and nature. Made of interactive fire, cast aluminum, LED light, video screens, sensors, steel, copper and stainless steel, these thirteen Seedpods lie within a 97’ x 60’ footprint. Each Pod showcases a different stage of growth, from emergence to full bloom. The outer spiral initiates with a Seedpod just emerging from the surface of the playa, the newest germination of Mutopia’s growth. Although small, it is the most evolved, exhibiting significant technological advancement and the greatest sensory awareness of the presence of other lifeforms. As one moves towards the center, one is transported back in Mutopia’s evolutionary history: the Seedpods rise in height and slowly devolve into their more ancient forms. As opposed to the newer growths, the older ones offer simpler, more primal technology, such as fire, gears, cranks, levers and springs.

During the day, the outgrowths and overhangs of Mutopia provide a still oasis, awaiting the dusk to open its blooms. As the day progresses and wind blows across the playa, something flashes in the sunlight amid the dust, drawing wanderers towards Mutopia. As they approach, they can hear sounds fluttering at the roots and swirling overhead under reflective leaves, beckoning them to come nearer. Mutopia rewards their curiosity with a reaction to their presence. Trying to communicate, the organic lifeforms reflect the participants’ voices back to them and illuminate visual messages on integrated screens. Further in the inner sanctum of the installation, citizens can manipulate the form of Mutopia by turning cranks and pulling levers.

At night Mutopia comes alive – illuminated with light and fire that beckon visitors to enter. The newest Pods are rumbling, hissing steam and glowing with an inner light which occurs with greater or lesser intensity according to human proximity. These Seedpods, aware of their environment and of human presence, respond with a flicker of video and visuals emanating from fruits that emerge from the cast aluminum Seedpods. Moving along the spiral arm, the Pods are extending roots, cracking open, exposing the beginnings of growth and a fire’s glow. A delicate ambient flame quickly develops into propane-driven pneumatics, bursting with fire and movement. Moving on, growth is exponential, roots are solidified and the reproductive parts gain form and move with the force of participant-controlled multi-directional propane “poofers”. Towards the inner vortex, the plants extend tendrils that intertwine, creating archways for participants to gaze through and walk beneath. Humans activate these Pods by using hand cranks and levers to articulate motion and their voices to direct the fire effects. In the inner sanctum of the spiral, the leaves have interwoven to form a canopy of multicolored computer-controlled fire.

In its final stages of growth, Mutopia’s flowers bloom with a show of multi-colored, multi-directional computer-controlled, liquid-fueled fire. At the zenith of maturity, Mutopia majestically projects its seeds and pollen into the environment with a dramatic final blast from the inner sanctum. Completing the cycle, the new seeds of Mutopia start a purposeful journey to new environments where they will lie dormant until watered and cultivated by the creative juices of a new society.

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