Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Coactive Systems - Art and science research focused on phytoplankton
Gene A. Felice II
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
UC Santa Cruz
Thesis Supervisor
Jennifer Parker
Supervisor e-mail
parker1 AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Helen & Newton Harrison, Jenny Reardon
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Digital Art & New Media
Languages Familiar to Author
English, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
art, technology, interdisciplinary, phytoplankton, justice, ethics, coaction
Abstract: 200-500 words
My work explores humanity’s role in maintaining stable ocean ecosystems by focusing on the microorganisms of the sea; entities that we rely upon yet often remain unaware of because of their minute scale. These investigations take on hybrid forms as transdisciplinary art and science interactions. They are created in the hope of fostering coaction, which by its definition is the act of examining relationships between organisms within a community. By creating awareness of humanity’s role in these relationships I hope to instigate ecologically minded change to both individual choices and public policy. In my thesis project Oceanic Scales, I explore the health of our world’s oceans through the lens of phytoplankton, focusing on its unique role as a biosensor capable of informing us of when our natural systems are becoming unstable. This artwork educates the user by revealing the interconnections between ocean acidification, the carbon cycle and climate change. It combines sculpture, light, sound, scent and texture by forming an abstract translation of live ocean sensor data and user interaction. Another part of my thesis work is a site-specific art event that I am organizing, titled Bloom. It brings together an interdisciplinary community of artists and scientists to cross-pollinate each other and our local community with research and artwork that revolves around the themes of water, light, time and ecology. Another primary component of all my work is the exploration of sustainable materials and ecologically minded production processes. By working with locally sourced materials that are biodegradable, while avoiding single use products that eventually end up in our oceans and landfills, I raise questions of how we make, why we make, whom we’re making it for and what we make it from.