In the culmination of a busy few weeks, I have another new digital installation opening this Friday. Horizontal Transmission is a semi-interactive sonic ecosystem based on bacterial dynamics, somewhere between a VR game and in silico systems biology simulation. It's an extension of research that I've recently been involved with in conjunction with the pioneering Division of Mathematical Biology at the National Institute for Medical Research.
It's a part of A Theory of Everything, at Deptford's Core Gallery from 24 June to 10 July, alongside a number of other works based on physical patterns and the empirical search for unifying scientific laws.
More on the piece:
Bacterial organisms exhibit a trait that is unique within the living world. As well as inheriting genetic properties from parent to child, bacteria are able to exchange genetic information with their neighbours, via packets of DNA known as 'plasmids'. This enables bacteria to temporarily adopt characteristics which may give them a competitive advantage in a hostile environment. Plasmids can be seen as semi-beneficial parasites which hop from bacterial host to host, giving rise to complex evolutionary patterns.
"Horizontal Transmission" (2011) simulates these dynamics in a 3D space, representing populations of cells both visually and sonically. When sound is detected from the gallery space by the attached microphone, it is transformed into a plasmid and deposited in the virtual space. This can then be assimilated by the bacterial population, who then mimic these sounds in their inter-cellular communications. The bacterial world can be explored using a 3D control interface, with which an observer can navigate through the population, observing cellular dynamics and communication patterns.
There are subsequently a number of informal salons featuring the artists and scientists involved. Find out more on the A Theory of Everything blog.