BIOS Zone 4: The Xylemancer at BIOS

About The Xylemancer


The Xylemancer—an interactive installation in BIOS, presenting botanically minded verse selected and distilled solely from page 83 of hundreds of books.

An algorithm selected the content for you as you step into the work.


Original Form

ThoTho made a hands-on form of the work during PlantLab (a previous AwhiWorld project), where people reached inside a mysterious object and pulled out one of 83 plant-themed cards.

The cards were developed through a research process that explored the significance of learning that 83% of the world’s biomass is plants—including the pages of books. 

Using their collection of books, ThoTho set up some basic rules around the number 83, creating 83 x 83-word written Phloems. These were further reduced to the brief ‘plant extracts’ on cards. Participants randomly pulled from the hands-on Xylemancer in a familiar process—like a lucky dip or bran tub— suggesting fortune-telling and card-reading traditions.

The BIOS installation

For BIOS, ThoTho collaborated with AwhiWorld to reinterpret the work into a 3D responsive installation.

Motion sensors triggered an algorithm to select the appropriate passage for those in its vicinity. The words projected onto large aluminium mesh curtains (donated by Warwick Bell to AwhiWorld).

Botanical inspirations meeting engineered object – a new iteration perfect for BIOS.


About ThoTho

ThoTho is an art entity fusing Vivian Thonger and Alan Thomas. 

 As a biomedical research scientist, Alan led teams investigating the deep complexity of living systems. Having recently completed an MFA, his main interest is exploring the limits of human empirical life. Taking cues from recent neurobiology and evolutionary theory concepts, Alan’s practice explores relationships between materials and systems and how humans create versions of the world. His work has been in solo and joint shows and private collections in New Zealand and Europe.

 Vivian is a short-form writer, poet and actor with a psychology and market research background. She hones her skills with Northland groups, including Kerikeri Theatre Company and Bay of Islands Writing Group. Her written work has won and been shortlisted in local and international competitions and appears in print and online. She is a wordsmith and collaborating artist at CollaboratioNZ, a biennial multi-disciplinary art event held at Whangarei Heads. 

ThoTho were excited to support the BIOS show at WAM in collaboration with AwhiWorld and contributing artists and researchers worldwide.

Visiting BIOS

The Xylemancer was in Zone 4 of BIOS.

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