CYANOVISIONS

Cyanovisions is a multimedia project combining video and bioart that focuses on the transmutation of light through photosynthesis by cyanobacteria, and their entanglements with humans, our changing environment, and biotechnology. It looks deeply into life as a complex systems on micro and macro scales, climate change and harmful algae blooms, experiments in gene editing, and future permutations of existence on our planet. It is a multimedia project that spans the genres of dance, fashion, bioart, and visual narrative, and aims to blur the line between science fact and science fiction in order to imagine more symbiotic and multi-species futures. Cyanobacteria were the first organisms to create oxygen on the planet through photosynthesis, and through endosymbiosis became the chloroplasts in all plants today; yet now produce harmful algal blooms due to human pollution. In an alternative narrative to the dominance over nature that cyborgian hybrid immortality offers, Cyanovisions posits potentials for biological hybridity and scientific spiritualities that recognize the inextricable relationship of human lifespans to those of other organisms. Cyanovisions moves beyond revealing correlations of human, natural, and sterile engineered forms. It merges the human body and the most fundamental and ancient life force, Light Energy, and the ancient organism cyanobacteria and its essential component phycocyanin.

2nd exhibition of Cyanovisions at Leonardo’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco

2nd exhibition of Cyanovisions at Leonardo’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco

The first exhibition of Cyanovisions - Initial Studies included the incubation of 5 strains of Cyanobacteria; an immersive installation as a speculative photobioreactor made with Dasha Ortenberg, and a series of bioplastics. Cyanobacteria cultures were sonified and magnified in different variations, especially to show the weaving of biofilms produced by Oscillatoria strains, and their filaments. An immersive photobioreactor made of 1000 feet of tubing houses the growth of Spirulina. The bioplastics were experiments using phycocyanin and spirulina pigment for new materials or wearables using laboratory equipment as molds for creating new forms.

Cyanobacteria are one of the most ancient life forms, a species that was responsible for first creating oxygen on our planet through photosynthesis. They caused the Great Oxidation Event - what Dorion Sagan terms the Cyanocene over 2.5 billion years ago - both an extinction event for organisms intolerant to oxygen, yet later spawning new heights of global biodiversity and all oxygen dependent life, including humans. Today, cyanobacteria proliferate as Harmful Algal Blooms in lakes, rivers, and estuaries around the world, creating toxic environments for humans and other species. As the element first created by this ancient life form sustains us, we in turn generate the pollutants that stimulate its unmitigated and toxic growth.

What is the New Nature we are evolving towards? How do we imagine more symbiotic and mutli-species futures? Cyanomutations highlights the entanglements and parallels between both humans and cyanobacteria, in particular, their capacity to both create and destroy life. Humans, although inadvertently responsible for the extinction of other species, also create new species and life forms through synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and artificial life. What would the future look like if humans and cyanobacteria merged membranes, genes, and metabolisms?

Cyanovisions hopes to reposition our relationship to cyanobacteria by showing the beauty of it's different forms and highlighting the evolutionary history of these organisms - viewing them on a geological timescale versus a human timescale. It questions what is perceived as toxic as aggregations of these ancient and intelligent organisms could very well be an attempt to bring ecosystems back into balance.