Without care, life will die. That’s a simple fact, and one that is beautifully illustrated in this thought-provoking interactive bio-sculpture by Byron Rich. ‘Protista Imperialis’ is a re-creation of the Earth’s continents in algae, set within a ‘techno-sphere’ that records how we treat our environment.
Rich aims to show how neglect of our environment inevitably leads to damage, raising awareness of the fact that we are degrading our natural resources for selfish reasons. The work, however, also has something hopeful to say: the promise of technology, and how it can help us mitigate the damage that we do to the Earth.
Algae shaped into the continents of the earth are connected to a technological apparatus signifying the ‘techno-sphere’ that mediates our societal relationship to the environment. It works with a motion sensor that emits a high-frequency tone when viewers are either still for too long, or move away from the piece. This tone has been shown to mitigate algae growth on a molecular level.
“Protista Imperialis is designed to invert the seemingly prevalent belief that our societal relationship to the environment is being negatively impacted through mediation by the techno-sphere. The piece is intended to provide a contemplative space in which the viewer has the ability to sustain, or suspend the ability of the bio-sculpture to grow. In essence I aimed to produce a piece that would generate itself with active engagement of the viewer, or conversely be destroyed by apathetic interaction.”