2012. Bioluminescent Installation. Luminale. Palmengarten Frankfurt

„In attempting to observe the phenomena of vibration, one repeatedly feels a spontaneous urge to make the processes visible and to provide ocular evidence of their nature. (...) However great the power of the ear to stir the emotions, (...) the sense of hearing cannot attain that clarity of consciousness which is native to that of sight.“ (Hans Jenny)

INTERFERENCE seeks to explore the possibility of triggering bioluminescence via acoustic waves, and vice versa rendering sound visible. A dense population of bioluminescent algae in a salt water medium is exposed to a choreography of acoustic impulses. Certain frequencies stimulate the microorganisms to emit punctuated flashes of blueish light as an immediate response to the sound. In otherwise complete darkness, the audience experiences sound waves as they are rendered visible by the living organisms. Each microscopic organism can be seen as a small scale biological, autonomous sensor making vibration visible in real time.

INTERFERENCE makes use of the remarkable phenomena of bioluminescence: the ability of living organisms to produce their own light. Biological light serves as a sophisticated means of optical communication to manipulate the behavior of other organisms. Its main functions are searching for prey, finding mates, deterring predators and camouflage. Whereas on land bioluminescent creatures are a rather rare trait, they are a very common phenomenon in the oceans. In the complete darkness of the deep sea, over 90% of the animals are bioluminescent. Basically all known phenomena of bioluminescence are based on a chemical reaction within the cells of the organisms, and are therefore generally speaking chemoluminescence. Biological light is extremely efficient in terms of energy consumption: Almost all of the required energy is given off as cold light.

Heinz Reichert
Scientific support:
Dr. Stefan Zauner, Heidemarie Thierfelder
Thank you:
Steffen Reichert
Elena Burggraf-Reusch and Thomas Reusch
Karin Wittstock and Julia Reiter