Arts Collaboration "World of Plankton" Featured in ACM SIGGRAPH "Science of the Unseen" Exhibit

Arts Collaboration "World of Plankton" Featured in ACM SIGGRAPH "Science of the Unseen" Exhibit

Date posted: 2016-07-08 09:44:16

"World of Plankton," a collaborative project involving students and faculty of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciecne (HASS) and the School of Science, is featured in the ACM SIGGRAPH exhbit "Science of the Unseen: Didgtal Art Perspectives. "   The exhbiit may be viewed online at

The work involved intensive study of freshwater ecology in the lab and in the field, including microscopic and underwater explorations  of the visual, audio, material and behavioral aspects of zooplankton and phytoplankton and their environments and a lake model based on bathymetric data.  The project was programmed in C# in Unity 3D with AI, behaviors, underwater lighting and physics.  3D models were created and rigged in Maya, and the soundtrack was composed by Electronic Arts senior Evan Gonzalez.

"'World of Plankton' is a true partnership with GSAS, Arts, and the School of Science, with undergraduates creating 2- and 3D Art, animation, music, sound, game and installation design, programming and AI," says Associate Professor of Arts Kathleen Ruiz, the project's originator, lead designer, director and producer.  "Pending funding, we plan on completing a number of other modules in the future, such as a zebra mussel eradication expedition, deep time travel based on the coring research of Prof Mimi Katz, an implementation of lake-hopping to specific sites, and more artistic and ecological experiences."  

In addition to the interactive online experience (, Ruiz says the team is working on "large digitally painted art murals (somewhat like Monet's water lilies) that have embedded Augmented Reality audio and video, and we have amazing 3D prints and very large hanging paper sculptures of key zoo and phytoplankton."  The ultimate goal, says Ruiz, is to create "interactive 3D simulation artworks that enable one to experience the world from multiple perspectives and explore capacities for empathy." 

For information on Kathleen Ruiz's work, please visit

ACM SIGGRAPH's mission is to foster and celebrate innovation in Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. The organization promotes its vision by bringing people together in physical, on-line, and asynchronous communities to invent, inspire, and redefine the many creative and technical artifacts, disciplines, and industries that are touched by computer graphics and interactive techniques. The organization strives to be the premiere community and catalyst for the creation, promotion and dissemination of information on computer graphics and interactive techniques.  Learn more at

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