If you’ve never seen a plant called a touch-me-not before, it’s a “bashful” herb that grows in warm climate areas and has the unusual characteristic of shrinking from human touch and folding inward, as if hiding, only to reopen minutes later. As a child, I would run my hands through a patch of touch-me-nots by the sidewalk, and in my imagination I’d hear them make an inaudible squeal in concert as they folded up their leaves and went into hiding. It was like nature’s own uncanny animation.
Taking inspiration from this phenomenon of finding liveliness in unexpected places, new media artist Keith Lam has created the project Mutual Symphony with his studio Dimension+. The reactive work is a sea star-like kinetic sculpture made with dozens of geometric origami parts that, just like touch-me-nots, can be triggered by human touch.
The piece is part of Lam’s on-going Dynamic Livings series, which explores the relationship between human and objects.
“New media art often gives people an impression of coldness. But we want to create something that is alive when we make art,” Lam explains. “By creating a conversation between men and objects, we hope the viewer can use a different way of thinking about life’s origin and its various forms, as well as to show a more fleshy and warm side of new media art.”
Image courtesy of Keith Lam.