Sensing Presence

In the exhibition Sensing Presence the Danish installation artist and interaction designer, Mads Hobye, has united glass and interactive technology.

Several of the works have a futuristic or science fiction-like feel to them, as if they belong to an almost dystopian world, where humans and living organisms have been replaced by machines. In the work “Breathers” we meet three glass domes placed at different heights around the gallery space. The domes are transparent and each has a silver bag made out of emergency blankets on the inside. These are continuously filled with air and then deflated. They breathe, just like us.

“Being Human Being” is a wall projection of a face made in wireframe. As the image is filtered through a piece of glass, the lines are blurry and diffused. The figure moves, and it watches you as you are watching it.

In this exhibition Mads Hobye explores the phenomenon of sensing a subtle presence in inanimate objects. The boundaries between life and non-living objects are blurred through our ability to have imagination and empathy to non-living things that move, breathe and react. 

 What is the border between being alive and being an inanimate object? Where do we draw the line, and how do our imagination play into this? When does our empathy start to kick in?

 Sensing Presence asks us to open our senses and sense with it as it senses you, and the pieces perceive each other. It is a call for our ability to imagine living in the artificial. Further, it invites us to reflect on the advancement of technology and how we as humans are at the brink of shaping it towards more life-like forms.


Mads Hobye (b. 1980) has been an artist in residence in S12 since December, but started this project already in 2020 through a virtual residency, consisting of streamed conversations and work sessions with our workshop manager at the time, Tim Belliveau.

Hobye holds a PhD in interactive design from Medea, Malmö University and works as an Associate professor at the Department of People and Technology at Roskilde University Center. As an artist, he makes interactive artworks that challenge how we relate and interact with  technology. As a researcher, he explores novel ways of using technology. Hobye is a co-founder of illutron collaborative interactive art studio, and he has co-created Exostudio to create cross-pollination between artists, scientists, innovators and makers in general. Since 2004 Hobye has exhibited at museums, public settings and large-scale events and ongoingly produces academic publications as meta reflections on his practice. 

Sensing Presence | S12 Galleri og Verksted