Digital Plankton: Scalar Ecosystems
Scalar Ecosystems
 
Digital Plankton
Cynthia Rubin
RISD // Winter 2015
 
I attempt to create a series of systematic and multi-scalar views that redefines scientific visualization. The common understanding of an ecosystem—natural, geographical, hydrological—is often represented within a linearity or as a moment in time, quietly but surely omitting any hint of its history, evolution, or future. In reality, as many know, this is not the actual case. Ecosystems undergo change and variability through immense lapses of time and across scales, from single-celled organisms to the vast oceans and landscapes. How this knowledge is visually translated becomes the principle behind Scalar Ecosystems. How can scientific representation collaborate with other ways of thinking and visualizing? What are the roles art can play and advance in education or common knowledge?

And Scalar Ecosystems aims to define and realize just this: a multi-variable reading of an ecosystem. Using plankton as its agent, the digital media piece allows a common experience for the microorganisms, their interactions, and their changing environment. The various diatoms and zooplankton, magnified up to over 15,000x, exist in the drawings well beyond their actual state, but suggest to viewers a path to seeing and believing beyond the eye’s capacity. The symphony of plankton and their surroundings becomes lost in their micro size, but resurrected and transformed through the piece. Additionally augmented with videos that bring the drawing to life, the piece overlaps the many layers of organism, environment, texture, and scale. The multi-media drawing preliminarily sheds light on the multi-dimensional and -temporal existence of our earth’s systems.
Process "environment" drawings.
The various sites where we collected plankton included the Providence River in Providence and Narragansett Bay, outside University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography's campus. Given the different times of day and locations, the resultant plankton were as varied as ever, exposing an immense hydrological ecosystem.
Final environment.
Digitally enhanced plankton photographs. Original images shot under compound microscope.
Comprehensive documentation of augmented reality embedded within the final environment drawing.
Digital Plankton: Scalar Ecosystems
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Digital Plankton: Scalar Ecosystems

Scalar Ecosystems aims to define and realize a multi-variable reading of an ecosystem. Using plankton as its agent, the digital media piece allow Read More
4
154
0
Published:

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