[ISEA2022] Paper: Harpreet Sareen, Franziska Mack & Yasuaki Kakehi — Algaphon: Transducing Human Input to Photosynthetic Radiation Parameters in Algae Timescale


Short paper, theme: Natures and Worlds: Visualizing the Enviromental Data
Venue: CCCB, date: June 13

Keywords: climate change, ecological time, biological functions, algae, interactive art

Algaphon is an online and offline installation wherein algae bubbles that ring at minnaert frequency near algal filaments are rendered audible through a hydrophone. The aquarium lighting is connected to participatory action where visitor input is converted into photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) variations in a remote aquarium.

Urban environments and manicured nature, with no sight unseen of native organism diversity, have led to forgotten evolutionary histories and a reduced understanding of ecosystem relations. The aquatic plant biosphere especially bears a collective amnesia from the humans of its evolutionary roles. It wouldn’t be erroneous to use ‘out of sight, out of mind’ in the context of the biosphere of aquatic plants. While the contributions of these early species have been tremendous to shaping higher plants, they haven’t received a lot of focus in their role from non-scientific communities.

Our work refocuses the attention on algae species and reflects on the role of these species in climate change in specific coastal regions, through very specific micro-capabilities. We were first inspired by algae sounds recorded underwater in the bay and river waters at the East Coast (East River / Hudson River) and West Coast (San Francisco Piers, Sausalito, Point Reyes) areas in the US. These microalgae traditionally form and release oxygen near their macroalgal filaments. When this oxygen is released, the relaxation of the bubble to a spherical shape creates a sound source that ‘rings’ at the Minnaert frequency. https://xlab.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/projects/algaphon

  • Harpreet Sareen (US/IN/JP) is a scientist-designer who creates bionic materials and hybrid substrates that lend themselves for future ecological machinery, sensing systems and interaction design. http://harpreetsareen.com
  • Franziska Mack (DE/US) is a multidisciplinary designer and researcher based in New York, where she is currently pursuing an MFA at Parsons School of Design. https://franziskamack.com
  • Yasuaki Kakehi (JP) is a media artist, HCI researcher and a Professor at The University of Tokyo. By combining digital technology and physical materials, he has created installation works that show new (alternative) ways of experiencing objects and environments. http://xlab.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp