BEAM is an immersive pavilion created and designed by UK artist, Wolfgang Buttress. BEAM is a 30m diameter woodland dome pavilion made from over 7000 locally sourced and unprocessed Sitka Spruce posts. BEAM highlights and expresses the plight of the honeybee and the essential role they play in pollinating 30% of the food we eat. The challenges facing the bee are universal. BEAM is an artwork that expresses the intrinsic and essential relationship between bee and human; it has brought together specialist collaborators in science, light, film, sound and projection mapping to create an immersive and multi-sensory experience.
Visitors enter the woodland pavilion through numerous pathways lined by rising tree trunks inter-planted with wildflowers leading to an 11m wide hexagonal clearing. The internal space is surrounded by 3.5m high wooden lenticular screens to create a fully immersive experience. The installation uses accelerometers (vibration sensors) to measure the activity of the Cornish Black Bee colony living at Michael Eavis’ Worthy Farm at Glastonbury. These live signals are sent through to the sculpture and algorithms are used to convert these vibrational signals into ever changing lighting and sound effects 24 hours a day. The Pavilion has a legacy post-Glastonbury as a giant bee hotel. Visitors during the festival were encouraged to use hand drills to create holes in the trunks to entice solitary bees and other insects to make BEAM their new home.
The internal space is fitted with a full surround sound system that filled the space 24hrs a day with a fluid and responsive soundscape based on live bee sounds with harmonious musical stems crafted and curated by Wolfgang, Tony Foster and Kev Bales who form the musical collective BE. Contributions to the soundscape have been made by Spiritualized, Amiina (string section for Sigur Ros), Daniel Avery, Camille Christel, Kelly Lee Owens, Coldcut and Liela Moss (The Duke Spirit). Bees hum in the key of C and typically the ever-evolving soundscape responds to this. Musicians performing at Glastonbury were encouraged to write and record musical stems with the live sound of the bees in a recording studio next to the sculpture which were integrated into the soundscape. New software has been written by the team which sampled real time sounds from adjacent Glastonbury stages which triggered a harmonious live remix where the key and BPM were constantly refreshed within the installation.
The internal space has integrated LED screens which circumnavigate the clearing expressing the activity of the beehives in real time. The space at night was filled with 360-degree projections from 12 state of the art laser projectors animating the walls of the clearing with footage from the honeybee hives and co-projects of Wolfgang’s scientific collaborator Dr Martin Bencsik in both high definition film, MRI and thermal imagery.