Oxygen, don’t take it for granted!

Victoria Vesna. Noise Aquarium (2016-) at Ars Electronica, 2018. Photo by Victoria Vesna.

Noise Aquarium

Victoria Vesna

The ecological crisis is a human crisis. Oceans must not be considered as flat blue surfaces which serve as dropping holes where we can let vanish all our anthropogenic remains. There are vast amounts of organisms that live down there and some suffer pain from our waste and noise. Many are aware of mammals such as whales and dolphins and there have been discussions about the chemical and waste pollution. But – often ignored is the invisible and the inaudible environment to us that is deeply secluded. Therefore, in this installation, we have created 3D enlarged plankton to be like whales. In addition, we amplify the noise as participants move closer to the animations to simulate how these organisms might experience and perceive this anthropogenic noise. This is a highly interdisciplinary artist led effort with biologists, chemists, nano-toxicologists and an animator all working together towards a common goal – to raise consciousness.

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Diving into Deep Space with Noise Aquarium

Whales and dolphins, in particular, are highly sensitive to noise. They flee and lose their bearings. In the worst case, they are stranded ashore and die in agony. But, not much is known or noticed about the effect of noise on the microorganisms in our oceans and seas. Victoria Vesna, artist and professor at UCLA, believes that these microcosms are severely affected by our waste and noise pollution. Together with Alfred Vendl, director of the Scientific Visualization Lab at University of Applied Arts Vienna, United Motion Labs, NYU Steinhardt, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and the Department of Integrative Zoology at the University of Vienna, she developed the Noise Aquarium, which will be presented at the Ars Electronica Festival 2018 in Deep Space 8K.

—in Ars Electronica blog, 2018


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