Sunday, October 18, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] The Arts in the Context of Darwinian Theory of Evolution Today


here is an example of an artist , Angelo Vermeulen, working with an
evolutionary biologist
Luc De Meester
see also

an art project that was created with the explicit intention to
function as a hybrid platform between visual arts and ecology. "Blue
Shift [LOG. x]" is a Darwinian installation piece that was realized
together with evolutionary biologist Prof. Luc De Meester from the
University of Leuven (Belgium) and engineers from electronics company
Philips (Turnhout, Belgium). The project was originally conceived for
the exhibition "Hot Re-Strike" (curated by Stef Van Bellingen) in the
De Warande arts centre in Turnhout in Belgium, beginning 2005. During
this lecture video footage, photos, biological data and interviews
with collaborators and visitors will be used to demonstrate the
working process of the project.

Blue Shift [LOG. x] is an interactive installation with a living model
ecosystem at its core. Using single-cell algae, water fleas, fish and
water snails, a compact aquatic community is set up in the exhibition
space. The whole system is designed in such a way that visitors
drastically induce a gradual microevolution of the - genetically
determined - light-responsive behavior of the water fleas. When the
system is in standby, yellow lights illuminate the aquaria from the
top. The water fleas are strongly attracted to this light and swim in
close proximity to it, near the surface of the water. Whenever a
visitor approaches the installation and passes a wall-mounted sensor,
blue spotlights on the top of the aquaria are activated. The water
fleas are repelled by this color of light, flee downwards and pass
through holes in a false bottom in the aquaria. However, fish are
residing in the lower sections of the aquaria and most of the water
fleas are immediately wiped out.

What can be considered to be a survival strategy in natural
circumstances - blue light indicates clear open water and hence
potential detection by fish - has quite a different meaning in this
set-up: it is exactly those water fleas that do not swim away from the
blue light that survive and reproduce. In this way their genes will
become dominant in the water flea populations and a "contra-natural"
selection will occur.

When the work is on display the artists-scientists continuously adjust
the set-up and carry out new experiments. The installation aims to
question the status of the utilitarian in art and science and push
interactive installation art into Darwinian realms.

Roger Malina

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