Project 3 - Open Ocean

Our team’s final project for Biomedia was an immersive installation that emulates the a kelp forest. This prototype installation incorporated many types of media to create this immersive space. We crafted the physical build of the installation out of reclaimed and reused fabrics and wood. We transcoded a protein sequence from the giant kelp species (Macrocystis pyrifera) and used this transcoded sequence to create visuals that we projected onto the installation. Additionally we developed an underwater soundscape, utilized dmx lighting, and added interactive lighting elements that shifted colors when participants walked through the kelp. A fan on a timed relay blew across the installation to mimic waves and tidal patterns.

Kelp forests are extensive underwater habitats that range along 25% of the world’s coastlines, providing valuable resources, habitat, and services for coastal communities. They grow best in cold, nutrient-rich water, where they attain some of the highest rates of primary production of any natural ecosystem. Kelps exhibit a great diversity of growth forms and life strategies, with the largest individuals reaching lengths of > 30 m and biomasses of 42 kg.

In the past half century, threats to kelp forests have increased in number and severity, leading to a global decline of kelp abundances of ~ 2% per year.

To create the visuals, we transcoded the protein sequence from a protein called “Fucoxanthin-chlorophyll a-c binding protein A, chloroplastic” This protein aids in photosynthesis which is essential for keeping the kelp alive. We chose this protein to highlight the importance of ecosystems and earth systems in keeping kelp populations thriving. Due to the decline in kelp populations around the world due to various factors, we thought the protein allowing kelp to “feed” be an interesting data set to transcode in the visuals.

The visuals were coded in Max with program in the package manager called Xray. This add-on can create visuals with water like properties, which we thought would be interesting to project onto the interactive kelp to represent kelp’s ecosystem symbolically.

Silas Carter