Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood
“Pulse, flow” is an audio-visual installation offering a place to slowdown and contemplate. It’s specific pace puts it between cinema and painting. It consists of a dark empty space where one wall is covered by the projection of the petri dish living containing Physarum Polycephalum. In the back of the space is the stand with life support system and computer tracking the internal changes of it’s gigantic cell in real time. These changes are creating a soothing soundscape heard throughout the space. Please scroll down for more info and some pictures.
This work is greatly inspired by the book Physarum Machines by Prof. Andy Adamatzky and his extensive research on a bio-computer running on the live Physarum Polycephalum. More info on Prof. Adamatzky’s research here.
Retrospectively it appears to be one example of a decent art-science collaboration, a case where both sides benefit. Hopefully, being immersed in this piece can offer scientists an insight on some internal processes of the cell, the workings of biological clocks and similar. But perhaps even more importantly it offers an inspiration space and should make a way of seeing “analogies between analogies” (Banach) easier.
* * * Sea shore in the night, the sound of the waves swooshing slowly. A look at the starry night sky. No need to rush. * * *
Details and photos
Physarum Polycephalum is an enormous one-cell organism. It can grow easily to the size of 10cm which makes it visible by naked eye. It has two interesting time scales, one in the range of 1-2 minutes where we can see internal oscillations of the liquid throught the cell:
Another interesting time scale is in the range of 1-2 days where we can see the growth and branching of the cell while it searches for food around the petri dish. This timescale makes it interesting to visit the installation multiple times and see how Physarum is doing.
Timelapse of ~2days
Here are some photos of the installation running:
In ideal setup audience can get really close to the projection and enjoy the intricate details of the organism:
A more comfortable variation:
A stand with the life support system providing Physarum P. with necessary water, food and ideal temperature:
Next to the life support stand is a computer screen indicating which parts of the cell are being used by the soundscape proccess:
Low quality video demonstrating the sound aspect of the installation.