Braided landscapes

Interactive kinetic installation

“Braided landscapes” is an interactive installation that portrays an abstract representation of the city of Prato and its recent Operative Plan. Indexlab conceived, designed and produced the artwork for the municipality of Prato. The installation has been exhibited at the Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci. 

Project description

The main drivers of the city of Prato are embodied in the installation through the metaphor of the "epigenetic landscape", which symbolizes change, performativity, resilience, and symbiosis. These concepts are expressed through a series of shifting spheres that can assume infinite spatiotemporal configurations above a transformable landscape in relation to a system of underlying “invisible forces”. The elements represented within the system can receive transformations and generate them. Human interaction can modify the landscape topology developing new configurations that engage the observer in a feedback loop. The landscape is represented by a thin membrane that embodies elasticity, deformability, and resilience of the system. The spheres can aggregate or separate, describing everchanging trajectories over time on the dynamic landscape and determining performative variations of the whole system. Polycentrism and diffusivity are entwined seamlessly. The lowest points of each valley signify developmental pathways while the highest define their limits, symbolizing regulation. 


Epigenetic landscape. Conrad Hal Waddington reference diagrams. In 1957, Waddington proposed the concept of epigenetic landscape to represent cellular decision-making during development. At various points in this dynamic visual metaphor, the cell (represented by a sphere) can assume specific allowed trajectories, leading to different cellular outcomes.

Project elements

 Base   A set of points generated by diffusion-limited aggregation lay on a disk, spreading out towards the center and clustering near the perimeter. The placement of these points determines a pattern of convex polygons that tessellate the two-dimensional space in defined domains.


 Rods and nodes   An array of variable length rods scatter from each node representing a system of “invisible forces”, these connections preserve the system’s equilibrium while maintaining a continuous dynamic transformation. The combination of these bonds, linear and non-liner, represents the algorithm that defines the morphological variation of the landscape.


 Membrane   An elastic membrane is a metaphor for resilience. The deformable nature of the surface allows the generation valleys (growth paths) and crests (constraints) that establish minimum and maximum points, shaping ever-changing landscapes over time.


 Spheres   A finite set of spheres embodies a logical-organizational system capable of taking on infinite space-time configurations. Depending on how the spheres cluster together, repel each other or drift along defined trails, performative variations of the whole are represented. 


 n-dimensional   The installation questions the relationship between the entity and its environment, specifically how both are simultaneously cause-effect of their manifold possible interactions. The ability of the system to modify itself over time introduces the fourth dimension. The range of infinite and unpredictable variations, where the observer influences the observed system, alludes to a fifth dimension, in which every path already exists simultaneously.

The making of Braided landscapes

Client: Municipality of Prato and Centro Pecci
Year: 2019
Location: Prato
Concept, design, engineering and manufacturing: INDEXLAB
Team: Pierpaolo Ruttico (Project coordinator/design principal), Salvatore Urso (Project leader), Enrico Fortis, Davide Colombo, Panos Pylarinos, Claudia Brisolin, Elsa Barri, Giulia Beltrami Batista, Claudia Pelosi, Tatiana Bonacina, Elena Plos.
Curatorship at Centro Pecci: Elisa Cattaneo, with Erzë Dinarama.


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