Interfacing between humans and cyanobacteria





Heliotropika creates an interface between people and cyanobacteria mediated by light. The project integrates the photosynthetic activity of cyanobacteria, the dynamics of environmental light and the bioelectrical activity of the participants.

Using microscopic observation, cell culture and computer vision, this work renders the photosynthetic activity of cyanobacteria in the form of an organic structure. It also produces dynamic geometries of light by analyzing environmental data. Simultaneously, this work transforms the activity of the nervous system of each participant into a source of light to stimulate the cells. In this way, Heliotropika produces an interaction between populations of cyanobacteria and human visitors, mediated by light via the bacteria's photosynthetic capabilities. The result is a series of interfaces and visualizations, creating a dynamic feedback system between the two.



Population of cyanobacteria (Pseudanabaena), agar plate (BG-11 media), microscope (Olympus 1X71), CCD camera (Moticam 5500), 3 computers, 3 applications for processing data into computer graphics, application for the analysis of cyanobacteria (Computer vision), sensors for galvanic skin response (GSR), digital encoding device (electric-analog to digital conversion, Bluetooth), high-speed network connection (TCP/IP), 3 units with sensitive light sensors, 3 video projectors (LCD), 1 mini projector, USB audio interface, 4 speakers and 1 woofer.




Heliotropika – Data visualizations of the phototactic motility of cyanobacteria under the stimulus of human bio-electrical activity. In the gallery, visitors are invited to induce changes in the activity of the cells. On his hand, the participant wears sensors that measure the electrical conductance of the skin (GSR). Next, a computer program visualizes this information as a digital composition.Through a modified microprojector, close to the Petri dish in the microscope's stage, the digital composition is projected onto the cells to stimulate them. The response of cyanobacteria to light stimulus is examined using computer vision and the microscope. Subsequently, the data acquired by the optical calculation is used to create a three-dimensional structure. A customized program for computer graphics renders the changes in the phototactic motility of cyanobacteria as an organic structure. This digital composition may result in a structure that is comparatively complex or simple depending on the cellular activity. © Photos by Juan M. Castro.







Heliotropika – Human bioelectrical activity transformed into light and real-time analysis of the phototactic motility of cyanobacteria. 1_Sensors for galvanic skin response (GRS) measure the bioelectrical activity of the visitor. 2_The people’s reactions are transformed into a digital composition that changes its color and shape. 3_Petri dish with cyanobacteria and microprojector at the microscope's stage. Through a modified micro-projector, close to the Petri dish in the microscope’s stage, a digital composition is projected onto the cells to stimulate them. At the laboratory for Molecular Cell Network in Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan), the cells are carefully grown under controlled conditions. In the exhibition, petri dishes that have a thin layer of agar-based medium (BG-11) are used. 4_Image showing the spatial location, cell density and speed of the cyanobacteria.The cells sense the intensity, direction, colour and duration of this light source and use the information to regulate their growth. Thus, depending on the intensity and colour of the visitor's reactions cyanobacteria generate different patterns of colonization. Through the video and the microscope, visitors can observe these changes and the directional growth of the cells.





Heliotropika - Visualizations of light as dynamic geometry.. On the building's roof, light sensors are fixed at different points. They register instantly and continuously the ongoing changes and irradiation of ambient light. As a whole, the system of sensors acts as a type of photosensitive membrane between the building's interior and exterior. Consequently, the information obtained by this system is processed in a computer program that renders it as a mesh. This structure modifies its coordinates and triangulation according to the daylight's activity, producing visualizations of light as dynamic geometry.© Photos by Juan M. Castro.







Support   Information Design Department - Tama Art University
    Laboratory for Molecular Cell Network & Biomedia art. Waseda University
    Metaphorest. Waseda University
    JSPS - Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Laboratory assitance   Miki Umetani
    Emiko Inoue
Microscopy imaging   Hiroki Yamamoto
Cell culture   Emiko Inoue
    Yuki Fukuzawa
    Hiroki Yamamoto
Sensor system   Albert Miller
    Seiko Tanaka
Special thanks   Hideo Iwasaki
    Akihiro Kubota



















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