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cry2gene

Lori Napoleon

cry2gene is a project which draws from the sensing, communications, and circadian rhythms possessed by the organisms with whom we share this planet.

http://itp.nyu.edu/blogs/lan274/category/cry2gene-project/

Classes Living Art

"Cry2gene" is an interactive, sculptural organic form inspired by coral. The title refers to an ancient light-sensitive gene, cryptochrome, found in many insects, corals, and plants (humans as well). My intention is to emulate the sensing and communications of organisms sometimes perceived of as "primordial" in order to forge a greater sense of similarity between ourselves and other living things, despite how alien many appear to us. Coral does not just 'sit there' for example: without eyes, it senses light; some species respond to touch; their internal clock follows the lunar cycles; many communicate via their own living lightshows.

My project's 'skin' is touch-sensitive, triggering flashes of light much like bioflourescent coral. It is endowed with an internal clock that responds to moonrise and set times with soft pulses of light. When the moon is visible, cry2gene indicates that, alluding to how we can learn about the world by regarding other organisms' constructions, rhythms and sensory input/output.

The cry2 gene has a significant impact on circadian rhythms, which are intrinsically linked to light, which in turn is dependent on the cycles of the sun and moon that we are ALL responsive to. My project is designed to be playful, yet evocative of these characteristics of "aliveness"; to give humans a sense that they are communicating with an ancient creature that has, despite appearances, much in common with themselves!


Background
See project description.

Audience
Any living being of any age is my target audience, from zooplankton to homo sapien sapien. Possession of eyes and/or light-sensitive skin cells a plus.

User Scenario
The Cry2gene coral-esque creature is set up on the floor (or low table) in a dark space. It has an ambient glow which would draw other sentient beings towards it. Humans would be looking down at it and encouraged to lean over and "pet" it. This will incur some reactive, flashing lights to scuttle to the place that they touched, symbolizing recognition. I will be working on adding a motion sensor to the piece so that it can react to proximity as well. Ideally there would be room for the person to view this from at least 2 different sides.

Whenever the moon is up in the sky, the Cry2gene creature pulses from within, so when this is happening, the user would be reminded to look up in the sky (an action which is so rare in new york city).


Implementation
The exterior skin is made of Smooth-on Dragonskin rubber and is gelatinous and pliable but durable to touch. It is tinted with flourescent dye and the leds underneath are UV, creating a soft glow.