The ecological crisis is a human crisis. Oceans must not be considered as flat blue surfaces which serve as dropping holes where we can let vanish all our anthropogenic remains. There are vast amounts of organisms that live down there and some suffer pain from our waste and noise. Many are aware of the large fish such as whales and dolphins and there have been discussions about the chemical and waste pollution. But – often ignored is the invisible and the inaudible environment to us that is deeply secluded. Therefore, in this installation, we have created 3D enlarged plankton to be like whales. In addition, we amplify the noise as participants move closer to the animations to simulate how these organisms might experience and perceive this anthropogenic noise. This is a highly interdisciplinary artist led effort with biologists, chemists, nano-toxicologists and an animator all working together towards a common goal – to raise consciousness.


Plankton serve as one of the primary basis of the marine food chain and are as a result a crucial component of the Earth‘s ecosystem. Current literature and studies have demonstrated how different noise sources influence large marine life with striking examples such as images of stranded whales and dolphins. However, little have highlighted the possible impact on marvelous microscopic organisms such as plankton. Noise Aquarium spotlights animated 3D-models obtained with scientific imaging techniques of the extremely diverse plankton spectrum.

Generally, anthropogenic xenobiotic pollution of the seas is widely known. Project Noise Aquarium is dealing with unnatural noise in the oceans as a further environmental issue. This project offers a species-rich bizarre idyll as well as visual attractiveness, thus evoking interest and attention for these important creatures and their disturbance through noise pressure waves. Noise Aquarium aims to awaken awareness for biodiversity and introduces a collection of accurate 3D-models as a resource for scientific and artistic research. The academic and creative potential of a cooperation, as it was developed for this project, is rarely to be found. All participants first had to learn to go beyond their field of expertise and communicate with experts from other subjects. In order to reveal our way to collaborate and the various materials used in this project, we first will briefly summarize the artistic and scientific challenges that a project on plankton and noise pollution entails.

Then, the effort of the data collection, analysis and the final technical and artistic processing in computer animation will be outlined. The project’s emerging presentations will happen in multifaceted ways, as varied places and time add context as project presentation parameters that influence the events. The Noise Aquarium is as organic as the organisms that are subject of discussion, therefore it will grow gradually and develop with each further presentation. We aim to show the content in various interactive and linear installations and gather all kinds of information, reference material and, of course, 3D-data of the organisms.


Linear Video

In order to present the evolving look of the project and to show the first organisms, we decided to start with projections of short videos as well as poster presentations. For instance, we had the possibility to test-screen a short sequence of Amoeba and Paramecium animations in the Deep Space of Ars Electronica Center Linz in late summer 2016. Various screenings and presentations at conferences are in preparation and will add to the evolving project.


Proposal for VR Version

In contrary to a linear video screening, an interactive installation adds layers of narration. The fully evolved project Noise Aquarium will offer the recipient the possibility to interact with the projection. This is an opportunity to let the recipients of the project experience the effects of noise and sound on the organisms at first place and more directly.




Principal Art & Science Collaborators:
Alfred Vendl and Victoria Vesna

Alfred Vendl | Visualization Lab Angewandte – Digital Art, University of Applied Arts Vienna

Dr. Vendl is director and writer with a background in chemistry.

Science and Research: Studies of Material Science at Technical University of Vienna, PhD, Research Scientist at: Imperial College /University of London, England, University Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, University of California – San Diego La Jolla, USA , Max-Planck-Institut of Metal-Research Stuttgart, Germany. Since 1981 Full Professor at University of Applied Arts Vienna, head of the Institute of Art and Technology, Associative Professor at Technical University Vienna. Around 80 scientific publications in Material Science, Archaeometry and Art Technology.

Film and Television: Education as Cameraman in Vienna, Freelance Cameraman since 1968, since 1970 work for ORF (Austrian Television) as cameraman, writer, director, producer and host of scientific talk-shows. Writer, director and/or producer of more than 200 prime-time documentaries for ORF, ARD, ZDF, WDR, BR, ARTE, BBC, Discovery, Smithsonian, WNET, etc.


Victoria Vesna | UCLA Art Sci Center

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI).

She is currently Visiting Professor at the Empowerment Informatics Program (EMP), University of Tsukuba, Japan and Interface Cultures, University of Linz, Austria. Her work can be defined as experimental creative research that resides between disciplines and technologies. With her installations, she explores how communication technologies affect collective behavior and how perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation.

Victoria has exhibited her work in over twenty solo exhibitions, more than seventy group shows, has been published in excess of twenty papers and gave 100+ invited talks in the last decade. She is the North American editor of AI & Society and in 2007 published an edited volume – Database Aesthetics: Art in the age of Information Overflow, Minnesota Press and most recently an edited volume entitled Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts. (co-edited with Christiane Paul and Margot Lovejoy). Intellect Press, 2011.


Collaborator: Animation

Martina Fröschl | Science Visualization Lab Angewandte – Digital Art, University of Applied Arts Vienna

Martina R. Fröschl, MSc is a digital artist focusing on computer animation and artistic science visualization. She studied Media Technique in St. Pölten and Media Design in Hagenberg, Austria and graduated in 2009. For her various project participations as visual effects and 3D artist in film and tv productions, she obtained practice experience already during her student days and ever since. Besides her visual effects and graphics projects, she engages in the organization team of PIXELvienna conference and has led some workshops. Currently, she is a doctoral researcher in a science visualization project in Science Visualization Lab Angewandte at University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Additional Collaborators:

Olivia Osborne | UCLA Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Dr. Olivia Osborne is an interdisciplinary research scientist and artist with a forte in educational entertainment. She is a bold adventurer with a passion to spread virtue and knowledge across the globe. From guest lectures to undertaking terrestrial conservation work in the jungles of Honduras, her love for nature has made Olivia the dedicated environmental toxicologist that she is and an admirable advocate for environmental issues. Currently a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA at the multidisciplinary University of California Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN), she is working on the hazard assessment of nanoparticles in the environment for which her research has received widespread media attention. She obtained her BSc, Hons, Exon and PhD from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom; specializing in developmental biology and ecotoxicology. Aside from her science credentials, she is an acknowledged bio-artist known for her experimental techniques.


Stephan Handschuh | VetCore-Facility for Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

Dr. Stephan Handschuh of University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Vienna with expertise in Developmental Biology, Zoology, Histology


Thomas Schwaha | Department of Integrative Zoology, University of Vienna

Interested in Cell Biology, Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Dr. Thomas Schwaha is a docent at the Department of Integrative Zoology, University of Vienna.