Lisa Moren, Tsvetan Bachvaroff: What is the Shape of Water?


  • ©, Lisa Moren and Tsvetan Bachvaroff, What is the Shape of Water?

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    What is the Shape of Water?

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    The audience enters a pitch-black room with millions of invisible organisms floating above their heads. They’re invited to speak, and if they do their voice will excite the bioluminescent dinoflagellate [pyrocistis] into bio-illuminating. Their blue glow swarms the shape of the waters sound waves created by the user’s voice. Therefore, if you ask “what’s the shape of water?”, the dinoflagellates will tell you.

    “What is the Shape of Water?” is part of a series of cross-species artworks allowing humans and non-humans to interact. There are three versions documented at Light City in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for ISEA 2020 in Montreal. The first is as described above where the human speaks into a microphone connected to a system that triggers an arduino-driven ripple tank exciting the dinoflagellates bioillumination. The second version is a live vocalist, Bonnie Landers, who sang an improvisational chant, creating a 20-minute dialog with the live ancient critters. The vocalist creates a loop where she and the dinoflagellates react to each other. Finally, a third use of the system allows the dinoflagellate [pyrocistis] to bio-illuminate according to their own DNA. An algorithm transcribed the organisms DNA into a six-hour audio composition triggering the tank’s system exciting the organisms.


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