Ocean Blue was an immersive ocean data experience built for the Wandering Cricket Night Market, part of a network of ephemeral art experiences. Ocean data concerning climate change, ocean health, and marine conservation were juxtaposed with a crowd-sourced database of memories, hopes, and dreams about the ocean collected online through a google form.
Twin projectors beamed the ocean facts or memories into an infinity mirror-effect moon pool installed in the back of an rented U-Haul moving truck. The interior of the box truck was decorated to simulate an underwater environment and the moon pool’s real water surface was perturbed by Arduino controlled aquarium pumps, creating a ripple effect that caused the projected typography to appear as caustic light reflections through the environment.
After a short amount of time, the microcontroller would pause the pumps and as the water stilled to a mirror surface the ocean facts and memories would coalesce and become legible on the walls surrounding the guests. After some moments of reflection, the pumps would reactivate and the words would ripple back into flickering, meditative caustic patterns and the sound of the moon pool would gently fill the truck. A new set of ocean facts or memories would be randomly chosen from the database and the whole process would repeat. The main projection application was written in Processing and the relay control of the aquarium pumps was coded in C in the Arduino IDE.
Guests to the experience reported a sense of calmness and wonder and delighted in the reveal of the text as the moon pool stilled. Several guests spontaneously offered their memories about the ocean and discussion of conservation and exploration; some regretting they hadn’t followed their dream to work with whales or become an oceanographer. A number of guests returned several times to discover new facts or memories and many lingered for the meditative atmosphere. Several hundred people were able to experience this immersive and interactive data environment before the end call of the Night Market.
Many thanks to Jon Ferguson, Scott Berk, Anna Waldman-Brown, Chia Evers and other volunteers that helped build and host this immersive data experience.