Machine in Flux – Wood
Installation / drawings

A documentation and cartography of time and environment inspired by growth mechanism of trees’ annual rings. The machine sensitively responds to changes of light, wind, temperature, humidity, and sound. Through time a unique, unforeseen pattern emerges. It is an exploration into the programmable smallest building blocks that make up complex natural phenomena, and discovering machines’ capacities on emulating nature.

Collaborative work by Sunjoo Lee and Ko de Beer

Machine in Flux – Wood was invited by Ars Electronica Festival to exhibit at Linz as part of the festival in 2020.

Project made in support from MAD emergent art center and Cultuur Eindhoven

This project has been advised by two professors at Wagningen University & Research.
      Professor Sass-Klaassen in Dendrolab
      Professor Sterck in Mechanistic modelling of trees

De Boulevard van Vitalis Peppelrode, 21-22 September 2019
ink on paper, 2.18m x 2.18m

Exhibition ‘Drawing Trees, Drawing Time’ at Temporary Art Center
05-12-2020 - 03-01-2021


Philips de Jonghpark, 11 June 2018

Ars Electronica Festival 2020, 10-12 September 2020
ink on paper, 2.75m x 2.75m

BioArt Laboratories, 17-21 October 2019
ink on paper, 2.75m x 2.75m

Albert Van Abbehuis (smaller version robot closeup), 21 May 2019

Albert Van Abbehuis, 21 May 2019


BioArt Laboratories, 22-24 October 2019
ink on paper, 2.75m x 2.75m

BioArt Laboratories, 22-24 October 2019
ink on paper, 2.75m x 2.75m

Home, 15 June 2018
ink on paper, 90cm x 90cm

BioArt Laboratories, 17-21 October 2019
ink on paper, 2.75m x 2.75m

How do trees deal with time and memory, and can that be compared to that of the machine’s?

How can we mimic the complexity of nature?

‘Machine in Flux - Wood’ is an art installation of a machine carrying out slow and delicate drawing performances, which its drawing resembles the cross section of a tree trunk.

Sunjoo Lee works together with Ko de Beer, an artist who builds own electronic music instruments and robots.

The drawings this robot makes not only suggests how organic and responsive a robot/machine can be, but also the imagined landscape where machines mimick the complexity and beauty of nature.

Trees’ rings form annually, depending on the climate and environmental events of each year. When you examine the cross section of a tree, you can trace back the history of the area’s climate and changes in the soil. Trees grow slow and strong, documenting in their inner bodies all the events that they go through along their lifetime.

The machine can sense light, wind, temperature, humidity, and sound. These elements influence the characteristics of the line it draws. Thus the drawing constantly changes its shape, black density, width and gaps between lines, and line texture. As these lines accumulate upon each other, a unique and unforseeable shape emerges through time.

It uses vegetable oil soot ink that flows through a capillary pen. For now we are drawing on paper, but the future possibilities of new materials are always open for us.

We’re inspired by the forms of trees and actual growth patterns of different species for writing the code. The work evolves as we research further into the morphology of trees and the technical possibilities of these machines.

Video documentation
‘Groeiende machines, Bomen van tijd’ Exhibition at Vitalis Peppelrode.

VPRO ‘De Toekomstbouwers’ broadcast on Machine in Flux - Wood, in Dutch Design Week 2019.