[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Tiare Ribeaux & Jody Stillwater – Cyanovisions: The Transmutation of Light Harvesting Bodies

Artists Statement

Single-Channel Video and Installation, 3D print, air pumps, cyanobacteria cultures, glass, silicone tubing, speakers, dimensions variable

Cyanovisions: The Transmutation of Light Harvesting Bodies focuses on cyanobacteria, the first light-harvesting organisms on the planet to photosynthesize. Humans generate the pollutants that cause aggregations of toxic cyanobacteria blooms, yet we also create new 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?
Inspired by the recent experiments in CRISPR gene editing technologies, Cyanovisions posits potentials for biological hybridity and scientific spiritualities with microbial species that recognize the inextricable relationship of humans to those of other organisms. Though the trajectory for millennia has distanced the human body and consciousness from the chemical processes and organisms that it is composed of, it is eternally linked to forces, processes, and organisms.
Cyanovisions offers potentialities of symbiotically living with both other species and our technologies as extensions of nature. Cyanobacteria are one of the most ancient life forms; they were responsible for first creating oxygen on our planet as the first light-harvesting organisms. Through endosymbiosis they became the chloroplasts that plants use to process sunlight into energy today.
Cyanovisions imagines a future where the light harvesting pigment phycocyanin is engineered into human bodies not only to surpass their limitations but to protect against the toxic conditions that we have induced on the planet. Portrayed in the short film are landscapes of algal blooms and the inner workings of a DIY Biology Lab. Science fact becomes science fiction as lab technicians move from routine experiments into an embodied ritual as part of a speculative experiment. As a cine-poem, this piece meditates on different states of bacteria and water, the transformation of light, and the embodiment of this transmutation. Photobioreactor systems growing cyanobacteria cultures are incorporated into the installation, along with speculative future prostheses of the human body.

  • Tiare Ribeaux is a Hawaiian-American new media and interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker and curator based in the Bay Area. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of B4BEL4B Gallery and co-founder of REFRESH Art, Science, and Technology. As an interdisciplinary artist, her work explores the entanglements of human technologies, biology and infrastructures with mythologies, the environment, and microbial/non-human species. She is interested in living systems, deep/dark/media ecologies, rhizomatic networks, speculative futures, multi-species ontologies, and collaborative entanglements. She has shown work both nationally and internationally, including Transmediale, IZOLYATSIA, Akademie Schloss Solitude + ZKM, ISEA Hong Kong, Southern Exposure, and Tokyo Fashion Week. She has worked with Leonardo//ISAST, the de Young Museum, Gray Area Art and Technology, MIT Media Lab, the California Academy of Sciences, Swissnex San Francisco, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Fort Mason Center for the Arts, and the Oakland Museum of California, among others.
  • Jody Stillwater is a writer, director & creative technologist from San Francisco, USA. His films + projects are based in dream logic and tactile reality, with a modern/ transforming approach to visual semiotics, grounded in realism and classical narrative. He has screened films at Marfa Film Festival, Choreoscope Int’l Dance Film Festival in Barcelona, Denver Film Festival, Bucharest Int’l Dance Film Festival, Copenhagen Fashion Film Festival, and has participated in the Tribeca Film Festival Hacks Lab, the San Francisco Dance Film Festival Co-Lab, and was the featured film artist at APAture 2018. He holds a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. As a sound recordist, films he has worked on have screened at Sundance, Edinburgh Film Festival, SXSW, Chicago International, Tribeca and SFIFF. He has made films in the Netherlands, Colombia, Austria, India, Chile, Slovenia, the UK and across the United States.