« colmena

Media: Electronics

Year: 2010

Collaboration: Martina Höfflin

Commission: Premi Pilar Juncosa i Sotheby’s 2009 Award


A swarm of one hundred creatures settles in the trees of the Mediterranean park upon the hills of Palma where Joan Miró used to live and find his inspiration. At the break of dawn the silent population becomes a vivid collective that assimilates sunlight into organic and chaotic sounds and movements.

The hanging creatures have a solid skin made of hand-knitted isolated wire to protect their simple analogue electronic organs. These are connected to tentacles that wind up the trees to collect as much sunlight as possible. Fed by light each corpus releases a repetitive monotonous movement accompanied by a a rather technical sound. Gathered as a swarm the individual output is merged into an organic soundscape and a united motion that feels natural and merges with the environment.

The electronic-life-forms installation ‘colmena’ by Pascal Glissmann and Martina Höfflin is the winner of the Pilar Juncosa and Sotheby’s Award in 2009.


The Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation is located in the lush gardens that surround the studios in which Joan Miró worked from 1956 until his death in 1983. This enchanting and peaceful atmosphere might have been the inspiration for the artist to envision his sculptures to become living creatures during the night or the absence of human beings. This influenced the idea of creating a swarm that has an autarkic nature. While this behaviour of the collective is mainly related to the sculptural work of the artist, the appearance of creatures is a reference to his graphic language. The corpuses combine the basic concept of geometric shapes with a very organic and variegated handcrafting. Like Miro‘s forms occupy the canvas, the small beings inhabit the nature around Miro‘s ateliers and workshops.

All ‘electronic-life-forms’ installations investigate the relation between nature, human beings and technology by creating unpredictable behaviour and revealing technology in uncommon places. The work ‘colmena’ uses isolated wire – a basic industrial electronic component that is condensed by handcrafting – to create a new kind of living sphere in between the concepts of nature and technology. As all these cysts are knitted by hand in different situations by different people they have an irregular structure that reflects an individual process. Functional electronic parts are combined and assembled in a revealing way to allow the merging with the environments. Especially the light absorbing extremities – solar cells that wind up the branches of the trees – are produced in an organic circle shape as an approach to a techno-biological appearance. With an equal intention the visual design of the electronic circuit and its board uses circles only.

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