Ideas don’t grow in a void. They grow in a gorgeous tangle of conversations and connections, a mess of influence and inspiration. And all of that is fuel for ideas. It’s the food ideas need to grow past their gnarls and knots. To twist, to turn. To mature and bloom. And when an idea finally becomes what it was always meant to be, it regards the world…and begins anew—as a wisp of a thought, a rustle in the mind, which the wind catches and carries away. Does an idea ever really start? And does it ever truly end? Or does it just continue becoming what it was always meant to be?

Harvest, a digital installation conceived by the Department of Design and the Creative Technology group, represents that truth in the form of a digital tree. Our tree lived at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of Chicago Ideas Week. It cycles from sapling thru maturity, growing according to movement, sound and the size of the crowd in the room it was displayed. MCA visitors directly affected the tree, brushing off leaves and causing its branches to sway, while tweets to #CIW and @leoburnett cause the tree to bear flowers and fruit.

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