Semiotics Laboratory

Semiotics of the Laboratory (2017). Collaborative performance at the Ars Electronica center, where I worked on the Euglenizer (below)

A collaborative project in the Wetlab of the Ars Electronica Center, during the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. Semiotics being the study of interpreting signs and meaning-making, in Semiotics of the Laboratory we performed laboratory experiments without context, for the visitors to interpret. The audience’s interpretations were recorded, and these voice recordings were in turn interpreted by an algorithm, which created collages of pictures and words.

Experiments included the in vitro fertilization of sea urchins cells, and a DNA image manipulation experiment that followed up the work done in Return to Dilmun. As part of Semiotics of the Laboratory I showed the Euglenizer project, documented below.

7. – 10.9.2017
In collaboration with Špela Petrič, Günter Seyfried, Miha Turšič, and Slavko Glamočanin
Supported by: Waag, Ars Electronica Festival, Future Emerging Art and Technology (FEAT), dr. Xavier Bailly (Station Biologique de Roscoff)

Original text from the Ars Electronica website:

Semiotics of the Laboratory aims to question the symbolic and semantic properties of laboratory practices when they are interpreted at face value-that is, merely through their visual observation, without the narrative that tries to explain their scientific meaning. It is a laboratory observing the interpretation of the laboratory practice itself.

The audience exposed to visually enticing experiments will become part of the artwork. The responses of viewers attempting to piece together the narrative of experiments will be captured and integrated into the visuals and soundscape, gradually adding to the interpretation of activities. The laboratory will feature ongoing experiments such as in vitro fertilization of sea urchins, DNA manipulation, column chromatography of blood lysate, thale cress somatic embryogenesis and light-directed manipulation of the protozoan euglena, and will combine with algorithmic processing.


Euglenizer (2017). Microbes, sound & interaction

A union of the single-celled Euglena gracilis, and a synthesizer, the Euglenizer is an audiovisual project using microscopy of live biology. It researches utilizing euglena movement for sound modulation and image manipulation. The organisms are steered using directional lights, and viewed under the microscope. The live image is tracked using OpenCV in Processing. Sounds are synthesized in PureData, experimenting with timbre through altering the frequencies and volumes of overtones. The Euglenizer project was following upon research done for Euglena Spaceships project.

The Euglenizer is a synthesizer influenced by live microscopy images, which was displayed as part of Semiotics of the Laboratory group project at Ars Electronica 2017.