“Algae Chorus: A Sound Installation of Interdependence” presented by Shao


Session Title:

  • Interactive – Networked – HCI: Sound (artist talks)

Presentation Title:

  • Algae Chorus: A Sound Installation of Interdependence

Presentation Subtheme:

  • Symbiotic Imaginaries




  • Algae Chorus is a sound installation that collaborates with living algae, in real time, transforming their movement and photosynthesis process into sounds. The algae utilize the audience’s collective carbon exhalations within the exhibition space, revealing the mutual dependencies between humans and photosynthetic organisms.

    Algae are a diverse group of aquatic photosynthetic organisms that produce around 70% of the earth’s oxygen. They also assimilate most of the carbon dioxide on the earth. As we face the climate emergency, algae are critical organisms that we imagine ways to make their role in the carbon cycle more visible.

    In this project, three species of algae live in disparate domestic containers in various growth stages, including single-cell cyanobacteria: Spirulina, microalgae: Nannochloropsis, and Chlorella Vulgaris. This installation explores the visual perception of the varied green shades of each algae colony, formed by degrees of density, and it embodies humanity’s affection for green aesthetics and the essence of color originating in nature.

    The algae’s growth and movements are manifested by light sensors in their biological time. While audiences inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, the atmosphere in the exhibition is slowly affected and also gets detected by a carbon dioxide sensor. All these data are translated into sound synthesis and tune the chorus.

    Through a rich visual and listening experience with algae, this project provides a space for contemplating oxygen and carbon dioxide circulation, and raises questions about our habit of anthropocentrism and the hierarchy of biological taxonomy. While not providing a solution, this project aims to open a discussion on our relationship with organisms living on the earth toward a sustainable future.