• Photograph of Spoorg installation at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles.

  • Detail photograph of spoorg cell showing photo sensor / micro processor infrastructure.

  • Photograph of Spoorg installation at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles.

  • Axonometric of spoorg cell distribution and aggregation along building interface.

  • Diagram of inter-cell wireless communication network for photo-sensor, micro-processor, and audio-speaker relay.

  • Photograph of Spoorg installation at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles.



Full-scale Installation Design


Responsive photo-sensor/sonic installation for the Gen(h)ome group exhibition at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles

Project Description

Semi-porous operable organisms takes its name from a primitive, usually unicellular, often environmentally resistant, dormant or reproductive body produced by plants and some microorganisms. These microorganisms are capable of developing either directly or indirectly after fusion with another spore, producing a new individual which is, in some cases, unlike the parent. In the context of this project, each spoorg cell is embedded with local intelligence, enabling it to communicate with other adjacent spoorgs.  It is, to a specified degree, responsive to selected local and regional environmental changes. The spoorg aggregate is locally in fluctuation but also produces larger scale atmospheric effects in the specific region in which it is located. Materially, it is equal parts architecture, decoration, hardware, and software.

The spoorg system is a cellular system which interfaces with the interior and exterior of glass building skins.  It is essentially a demonstration project, exploring the potentially productive effects of integrating contemporary material, geometric, sonic, and photo-sensing technologies. The intelligence of the system is distributed (as opposed to being centralized) and based on wireless radio communication.  Spoorg reacts to local as well as regional environmental changes of light and responds by generating various forms of ambient sonic output. The behavior of each spoorg individually, and the network of spoorgs collectively, evolves over time through the modulation of sound textures based on a series of algorithmic rules.

Each spoorg cell is comprised of a thin-skin plastic shell with hollow regions for embedding local infrastructure such as PCBs (microcontrollers), photo transistors (sensors), small-scale speaker elements, and RF (wireless radio communications technology) for local communication between the cells. The shells are manufactured through sintering and vacuum-casting. The local infrastructure combines wired and wireless technologies.

The spoorg system allows one to cultivate and decorate domestic space (interior and exterior) by distributing and expanding shading and sound into a cellular, semi-porous membrane. Through this form of cultivation (the user’s interaction with the spoorg system) new behavioral patterns emerge.  A lack of cultivation will result in a certain decay of the spoorg system’s performance. The difference between decay and growth renders the domestic space with subtle changes of atmospheric moods. Varying states of transparency emerge as the spoorg interfaces with natural lighting.  Shifts in the density and the pace of ambient sound become apparent through the spoorgs’ modulations of frequency.  Sensitivity in the spoorg cells can be programmed and adapted for specific forms of monitoring and interacting with the environment.

Spoorg cells can operate Individually as well as in dense assemblies, producing aggregates through stacking and clustering but also through cell division, fusion, or nesting with other cells to create new individuals that are unlike the parent cells. The electronic infrastructure operates with a similar logic. Each unit is responsive to local sensory input and produces sound individually. The sonic behavioral patterns can further fuse with others via input from neighboring cells through wireless communication. The aggregation of cells allows for different distributions and densities of electronic infrastructure, affecting the system’s performative qualities.

Spoorg installed in the Schindler House nursery:

The nursery as the nexus of growth and cultivation is an ideal site for the implementation of the spoorg system. By being able to monitor or register atmospheric qualities in the house and exterior environments, the spoorg system inverts the convention of monitoring the nursery. The spoorg elements adjust to the small scale of the nursery, as well as its program, considered here to be a domestic nursery as well as a nursery for the growth of various forms of flora.  Spoorg communicates through the house envelope, attaching to the interior and exterior of the nursery and generating a porous membrane between the garden and the house.

To this extent, the spoorg system enables the dweller to cultivate domestic space through growth, change, and manipulation of the cellular network. Simultaneously, spoorg responds to environmental inputs, updating its behavior. The interaction between these agents enables the accumulation of information and its particular organization (both the physical manipulation of the cells and their local digital responsiveness to the environment) to generate pattern, lighting effects, conditions of acoustic transparency or opacity, and re-shapes surfaces of the domestic interior.

The spoorg system revises the conventional notion of cellularity in architecture as a material aggregate and proposes a composite information aggregate where cells of information take on material attributes in the architectural environment.  Spoorg assumes a non-uniform cellular approach to contemporary formal and material organizations.  Spoorg components can be systematically varied geometrically and modulated electronically in order to spawn emergent organizations of space, program, and material. This cellular approach allows for the assembly of material, electronic, and social networks by having different modes and distributions of connectivity. In so doing, the architectural structures permit reconfiguration, fluctuation, or modulation of components in response to changing environmental conditions.

Project Credits


Installation Design


David Erdman, Marcelyn Gow, Ulrika Karlsson, Chris Perry

Design Team: Erik Hökby

Electronic and Algorithmic Design

Pablo Miranda and Åsmund Gamlesæter


Sound Design

Leif Jordansson and Martin Q Larsson

Special Thanks

Jonas Barre, Sue Huang


With Generous Support From

Konstnärsnämnden, Sveriges Bildkonstnärsfond, Stiftelsen Framtidens Kultur, BSK arkitekter, White, Wingårdhs, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Atmel Norway AS