Tyler Fox

Winter 2019

Designing bioluminescent displays


Co-directed by Tyler Fox and Brock Craft

Bioluminescence is light produced by living organisms. Pyrocistis fusiformis is a single-celled, nonmotile dinoflagellate (algae) that emits a flash of light when physically agitated. Bioluminescent algae can be found in seawater around the world. In this DRG will explore the expressive potential of bioluminescent algae as a form of display. Students will learn how to propagate algae, use physical computing to agitate it, and utilize the affordances of this form of bioluminescence in a display.

We will collaboratively construct a display as a group, then students will divide into small teams to create custom visualizations for it. Along the way, we will consider intersecting questions regarding our topic: What are practicalities and limits of bioluminescence? What are the ethical questions of designing with living organisms? How can speculative projects such as this help provoke environmentally-sensitive design, or do they? Students can expect to gain practical skills in physical computing and interactive installations as well as to grapple with broader, theoretical questions, such as, what should living displays be used for, and why?

While we seek to develop a robust, interdisciplinary group, ideal candidates will have significant interest in, or basic skill in:

  • Physical Computing/Electronics
  • Physical Prototyping
  • Interaction Design
  • Interactive Art
  • Creative Coding
  • Marine Biology

Students interested in participating in this DRG should complete this brief survey.


Dr. Fox's Research Group archive