Alex Beim is the founder and Creative Director of Tangible Interaction, a Vancouver-based studio that creates sensory installations where community participation is key.
Tangible Interaction delivers graphic, industrial and audio design as well as programming, electronics engineering and production. While their medium may be different, the work of Alex and his team aligns with HCMA’s ambitions—to engage the community through shared experiences.
Their past work includes branded interactive experiences for companies across the world and collaborations with Blue Man Group, Arcade Fire, Green Day, Coldplay and Chemical Brothers. They also create public artworks such as CODE Live (2010 Winter Olympic Games), City of Turin, the Vancouver Aquarium, Siggraph, Cine Kid and Illuminate Yaletown, to name a few.
Alex’s final residency piece, titled Jax, generates an imaginative engagement not seen in most urban installations. Jax is a collection of two-metre high, inflatable, complex geometric shapes which can be illuminated from within. The Jax shape was the result of weeks of dialogue, collaboration, and a creative workshop with HCMA staff. The shape was originally inspired by Dolos (and the related Kolos), which are large, concrete, interlocking structures that protect coastal seawalls, breakwaters, and harbours from the erosive force of ocean waves. The installation name comes from the final shape’s similarity to “Jacks”, a game that has been played in varying forms for generations.
In contrast to the environments in which they are discovered, Jax can turn any public space into a vibrant, active play zone. We hope that passersby will experience a temporary disarmament when they are put in touch with the delight of discovery and given the opportunity to collaborate with strangers. Like their progenitors, Jax also offer an element of protection from the erosive forces of modern urban life to those who engage.
Like our More Awesome Now laneway transformations Alley-Oop and Ackery's Alley, Jax propose an open-ended game, an urban improvisation poised to be as surprising to those who choose to play as it will be to those who choose to watch, turning all into participants within this urban-scale theatre of sorts. What do these forms look like all bunched up against the wall? What happens if we distribute them out over this entire area? What if they are bunched together in a nest? A time-lapse camera will capture the process, and might even yield some intelligence about how people congregate in the urban commons, which conditions host the greatest intensities, which the least.
Follow Tangible Interaction and HCMA to keep up to date with our progress. We’ll let you know when and where you can find Jax when production is complete.
Images by HCMA Architecture + Design, Jared Korb and Mark Teasdale.