Pistil Tickle

I was originally inspired by lichen colonies such as Cladonia chlorophaea that appear to me as miniature horn instruments. While I worked on the piece, the constructed forms grew in scale and surreality, morphing from lichen shapes into some type of fungi-floral hybrid. In a semi-dream state, I saw the horn-shapes emerging out of a wall, covered with white fluff. They seemed to convey an alien sentience to me, and this is what I attempted to recreate.


Photo resistors that react to light level – the ‘pistils’ of plant morphology – emerged from the white forms. Flashlights were provided to visitors to ‘tickle’ the extended pistils with light. This tickle triggered miniature motors inside glass vials to produce a subtle vibrational buzzing.

Pistil Tickle

  • 2014 • spring
  • photo resistors, mini motors, glass test tubes, metal mesh, cotton batting, flashlights
  • Description

    as installed in Carnegie Mellon University's Ellis Gallery

  • Acknowledgements

    video documentation by Caitlin Boyle