Kathleen Ruiz, Christina Chiusano, Ian Stead, Justin Cirigliano: World of Plankton




 
  • ©2014, Kathleen Ruiz, Christina Chiusano, Ian Stead, and Justin Cirigliano


Artist Statement:


    The World of Plankton is an interactive virtual three-dimensional art and science world designed to viscerally engage the participant at the micro-scale of unseen phytoplankton and zooplankton in order to gain first-hand experience about the drama of underwater life and its potentials for environmental impact. One is given choices to envision what this aquatic world might look like if conditions were to change — coming face to face with an animated spiny water flea devouring beneficial zooplankton, or experiencing the unfolding events of a large algae bloom – all in a multidimensional world that enables a person to virtually snorkel through freshwater plankton. By using simulation technology to invert tiny plankton to human scale The World of Plankton experience connects “us” to “them” in formulating a sense of the freshwater world that is not an “it” that is “outside” us, but a vital part of us all.

    Starting with a flyover of a simulated model of Lake George created from bathymetric data, we then splashdown into the littoral area entering interactive underwater scenes where one can explore, experience and learn. The world view is scalable to fish, zooplankton and phytoplankton sizes. Our specially designed and programmed “examine cam” enables one to learn about and even experience what it may be like to be plankton. This project arises from my on-going scholarly and artistic research in creating interactive 3D simulation artworks that enable one to experience the world from multiple perspectives and explore capacities for empathy. Source materials include original lab and fieldwork observations that were recorded jointly with our science team of biologists and freshwater ecologists as well as original data. The project was programmed in C# in Unity 3D with AI, behaviors, underwater lighting and physics. 3D models created and rigged in Maya. Original music, Evan Gonzalez.


Technical Information:


    Media Used: Intensive study of freshwater ecology in the lab and in the field including microscopic and underwater explorations. The project was programmed in C# in Unity 3D with AI, behaviors, underwater lighting and physics. 3D models created and rigged in Maya.


Video: