Infinity Cube a new immersive exhibition exploring the magical and natural phenomenon of bioluminescence – when marine organisms emit light – opens at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Realise that everything connects to everything else.” Leonardo da Vinci
“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.” Leonardo da Vinci
Created by London-based artist Iyvone Khoo in collaboration with scientist Dr Michael Latz, the 8-foot Infinity Cube installation, funded by philanthropists Rick and Patty Elkus, surrounds guests in projected and reflected larger-than-life images of bioluminescence accompanied by soundscapes. The National Science Foundation provided additional support for the interpretative component of the exhibition.
Khoo’s interest in bioluminescence lies in the complex overlap and contrast between ideas of nature and the artificial, to facilitate a hypothetical conversation between man and nature, ultimately examining how human actions affect the natural world and shape the human condition. Khoo explained, “It is humbling to think that half of the world’s oxygen originates from tiny, beautiful, precious plankton and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to contribute to the promotion of respect and appreciation of our natural world.”
The Infinity Cube exhibition features footage of single-celled marine organisms, called dinoflagellates, filmed reacting to various stimulants such as the human heartbeat, music, water flow and air pressure. In homage to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s obsessive dots and cube-shaped mirror rooms, the installation allows spatial perception to transcend the physical limitations of a confined cube. A participatory experience is created by reflecting the visitors as the subject of the work, thus connecting with a reflection of the self in the expansion of infinite pulsing light.
Admitting to an artistic obsession with bioluminescent algae Khoo said: “When we look at the algae with our naked eye, it’s a very tiny dot of light that will glow when stimulated by sound or mechanical stimulation – like souls they are invisible until they manifest.”
Through activities and interpretation accompanying the installation, guests have the opportunity to learn more about bioluminescence – how dinoflagellates produce light and how marine species use light-flashes for camouflage, protection and communication.
Dr Michael Latz, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography said: “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.”
Marking Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s first outreach public commission to communicate science through art, Executive Director of Birch Aquarium Harry Helling said: “We want people to realise that Scripps scientists, right at this very moment, are all over the world doing research that will help us understand and protect our planet.”
Words: Simon Tarrant © 2017 Photo Courtesy Birch Aquarium
Infinity Cube at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography