BIOTA

516 ARTS ALBUQUERQUE NEW MEXICO: SPECIES IN PERIL ALONG THE RIO GRANDE
SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER 2019

“There are more microbial species on Earth than stars in the galaxy. Thanks to DNA sequencing we are now able to “see” them and understand how they too are in peril. “

BIOTA is a data visualization installation that explores biodiversity loss through the micro-macro lens of new sensing technologies. From DNA sequencing to satellite remote sensing to micro algae production, the artist investigates data and imagery from these new methods of scientific exploration. In collaboration with local environmental organizations, biology labs and field scientists, the team used DNA sequencing technologies to analyze DNA strands of one water sample collected from a New Mexico river, revealing the thousands of species that form the microbiome of the river. This bio-data was used to generate an algorithmic pattern of growing circles visualizing the diversity of species and their relational abundance. The algorithm is projected into the liquid bubbles which contain live freshwater microalgae to highlight their importance. Microalgae produces approximately half of the atmospheric oxygen while using carbon dioxide to grow photoautotrophically. The changing colors, size and density of circles represent the different species and their symbiotic complexity.  ‘Biota’ hopes to instill empathy for the invisible world of microbial species in peril while raising awareness to the fascinating new science and technology that allows us to finally ’see’ them and understand the important role they play.

Medium: projection, copolyester, fiber optics, galvanized metal, microalgae

Collaborating Team:

Cristina Vesbach, Museum of Southwestern Biology, DNA sequencing
Mr. DNA, DNA Sequencing
Luke Spangenburg, Santa Fe Community College Trade and Technology Center, algae samples
Shannon Romeling/Amigos Bravos, advisor
Rich Schrader/River Source, advisor
Katie Bryant, Upward Bound Math & Science, advisor
Taos Land Trust staff, advisors
Screen Solutions International, Sponsor/advisor
Cisneros Sheet Metal, Sponsor/advisor 
Viola Arduini, Advisor
CERN Data Center, copolyester fiber optic form development, Fluidic Data