London Street Art Features Robotic Butterflies That Respond to the Environment

The worn brick walls of London have long offered sanctuary to some of the world’s greatest street artists — from Banksy and Ben Eine to ROA, Shepard Fairey, Swoon, and now Living Industry’s Ryan Wolfe. With the first New Media installation ever to grace the Great Eastern Wall, Wolfe is breathing new life into a decades-long tradition of street art by hacking everyday technologies to create extraordinary installations.

While most street artists make use of spray paint or wheatpastes to transform the urban environment, Wolfe uses the motors from old Nokia cell phones, an array of sensors, and unique programming to craft street art that actively responds to the urban environment.


Like Wolfe’s earlier work, Branching Systems is interactive by design — for an entire city block in the heart of Shoreditch, Wolfe’s individually-programmed, hand-crafted butterflies dance along wire branches among delicate robotic leaves as individual sensors react to the movement of the people and the street, setting the entire system in motion.

With every head that turns, every car that slows down, and every bike that speeds by, Branching Systems shifts and changes. As the street-side ecosystem evolves in response to the urban environment, the installation offers not only a moment of tranquility and delight amidst the hustle and flow of the city, but also the opportunity to consider art and life as a series of complex interactions that have the capacity to transform the world.

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