Art Installation Takes Living Light To Infinity

Image: Iyvone Khoo (c) 2016

LA JOLLA–What happens when you combine glowing creatures with world-class science, high tech projection and an original soundscape? Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is about to find out.

For three months, London-based artist Iyvone Khoo worked alongside Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego scientist Michael Latz in an effort to better understand the role of bioluminescence — light produced by living organisms — in the marine environment.

They filmed more than six hours of footage of single-celled marine organisms called dinoflagellates reacting to various stimulants, such as the human heartbeat, music, water flow, and air pressure.

Those videos have become the basis of the Infinity Cube, a new exhibit opening April 7 at Birch Aquarium. The 8-foot cube, generously funded by Rick and Patty Elkus, will surround guests in projected and reflected larger-than-life images of bioluminescence accompanied by soundscape. Additional support for the interpretative component of the exhibit was provided by the National Science Foundation.

“Through this project, I hope to raise public awareness of how we as a species relate and communicate with our natural world. There are energy, vibration, and songs in everything, one just has to find them, even at a microscopic level.” said Khoo.

Through activities and interpretation accompanying the installation, guests will have opportunities to learn more about the phenomenon of bioluminescence—how dinoflagellates produce light and how many light flashes marine species use for camouflage, protection and communication.

“I am pleased that my successful collaboration with artist Iyvone Khoo has led to this art installation, using art to communicate my science in an aesthetically pleasing way without the jargon and technical details,” said Michael Latz, marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

The Infinity Cube will be on display until Dec. 31 and is included in Birch Aquarium admission, which is $18.50 for adults, $14 for children ages 3 to 17. Annual memberships are also available. For more information or to purchase tickets visit aquarium.ucsd.edu. Proceeds support exhibits and educational programming at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

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