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Finding happiness inside an inflatable monster’s intestines

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In 1971, design group Ant Farm published the Inflatocookbook — ostensibly a manual for how others could make "architectural performances" out of inflatable structures. Back then, nearly five decades ago, Ant Farm would create and tour with their pseudo-habitable creations. They are a far cry from the inflatable structures of today, which by and large are associated with the bouncy castles of birthday parties.

Ant Farm's work, and especially the Inflatocookbook, served as both inspiration and guideposts for Beau Burrows, co-founder of design collective Future Wife. Burrows' latest work, Visceral Recess, is in many ways a bounce castle for adults, but one fitted with a number of sensors and technology that react to any movements inside the piece (which, by the way, intentionally looks like abstract intestines).

"For me, I'm really attracted to things like bioluminescence and deep sea creatures," Burrows said. "Stuff that looks like you should be able to touch it and play with it, and it should interact with you." Visceral Recess is constructed using specialized fabrics that are both translucent for the lights within, and reflective for the lights flashing outside. (It's also, notably, extra durable material.)

Inside each of the intestinal tubes are inertial measurement units (IMUs) that detect movement and acceleration, which in turn will impact both the sound and internal / external lights. (Burrows is still fine-tuning those aspects, but the end result is likely to fall somewhere between tranquil and trippy.)

Visceral Recess by Future Wife is one of several works being shown in The Lab, a 70-foot dome that's part VR theater / part art gallery, part presented by The Verge. You can read more about The Lab here, and you'll be able to see it when Panorama kicks off on July 22nd — by the way, set times are out.

Video by Phil Esposito and Tom Connors. Photography by Amelia Krales.