Wolfgang Buttress: Ideas behind The Hive

Image of aluminum mesh cube

The Hive by Wolfgang Buttress. photo / Mark Hadden

On the Steps Event Series

Artist Wolfgang Buttress creates multisensory artworks that draw inspiration from the evolving human relationship with the natural world. Buttress explores and interprets scientific discoveries, collaborating with architects, landscape architects, scientists, and musicians to create human-centered experiences.

Buttress has produced artworks on four continents including Europe, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. He is well known for the U.K. Pavilion (Milan Expo 2015) and The Hive, a collaboration with physicist Martin Bencsik, Hoare Lea, and Simmonds Studio, currently installed at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. The project has won more than 25 awards including the gold medal for best in show at the Expo 2015 in Milan.

The Hive is a 14-meter aluminum lattice cuboid that highlights the decline of the honey bee. By measuring the activity of a living bee colony at Kew Gardens, accelerometers feed live signals to 1,000 LED lights that line the interior of the sculpture. The energy informs an ever-changing and fluid soundscape created by a selected ensemble of musicians who now write and perform under the name of BE.

Other scientific collaborations include UNA (2013), in Canberra, Australia; and Lucent (2015), in Chicago. Both of these projects express the star mapping research of astrophysicist Daniel Bayliss. Corona (2017) is a collaboration with Martin Bencsik in which two NASA satellites monitor the sun's activity which is expressed in real time as an ever-changing light array projected onto a 1,000 m2 facade of the new science research hub in Nottingham, England.

Current projects include sculptures in Taiwan, the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.