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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Bubbles – Interactive Pneumatic Environment

  • On October 9, 2006

Completed a couple of weeks ago at the Materials & Applications research and exhibition site in Los Angeles, I have been meaning to post ‘Bubbles‘ after following its rapid development and construtction on the supporting blog that documented the project. Bubbles was created by Michael Fox, Scott Franklin, Axel Kilian, Miao Miao, Juintow Lin, Darius Miller, and a number of volunteers.

The interactive installation is a spatially adaptable pneumatic environment at an urban scale. The installation consists of large air-bags or "bubbles" that inflate and deflate in reaction to visitors pushing or bumping the lower inflated volume of each pair. As visitors enter and move through the installation, they must navigate through the lightweight 8’ diameter spheres that fill the space. When the bubbles are bumped, sensors initiate a chaotic exchange of air between the spheres. When no visitors are present, the system returns to its stand-by state: the lower bubble in the pair refillls with air and awaits another interaction.

also see my post on Michael Fox’s talk at GSM2 ealier this year



  1. For the BUBBLES team,

    Very impressed with your work!
    I am an honours student currently studying visual art at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia and am currently researching for a thesis on enkaptic relationships in my own work, using interactive low tech pneumatic devices to illustrate symbiosis between subjects and objects.

    I could not help noticing similarities between BUBBLES and my own project, especially in the overall look of the aparatus, and the way air moves from one ‘bubble’ to another via viewer interaction.
    (i have used a simple construction of pvc piping and 2 or more balloons, which are squeezed by viewers.)
    I understand that your work is inspired by the thigmotropism of plant life and I find the cause and effect aspect of the work appealing, the way plant and human exist in a state of sensitive response to one another.

    My interest lies in the possibility air acting as a ‘lifeforce’ inside a pneumatic work, which in turn allows the work to speak metaphorically about other systems.

    Part of my thesis requirement is to investigate contemporary artists and I was hoping that perhaps you could comment on the motivation/inspiration and or any theoretical aspects of the BUBBLES work. Also, with your permission could i perhaps include an image of your choice to include in the paper?

    Due to my late discovery of your work, I have only a couple of weeks to complete my thesis, so I would greatly apprectiate any feedback you have over the rest of the week!

    My email address is

    I have also set up a ‘myspace’ where I have posted recent photographs and a summary of my work.

    As mentioned before, your feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    Thankyou very much for your time,

    Elaine Morcombe

  2. Elaine, I recommend contacting Michael Fox directly

    God luck with your work

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