The Insanely Beautiful Infinity Cube Exhibit Is Now Open At The Birch Aquarium

The Infinity Cube exhibit is now open at Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla — and invites viewers to step into the ethereal glow of a world created by London-based artist Iyvone Khoo and Scripps Oceanography marine biologist Michael Latz.

We took a peek this week at the experience and the ways in which it explores the natural phenomenon of bioluminescence — a key to survival in the dark ocean for deep-sea animals. Together, what this powerful team has created is the synergy between art and science, a conversation between the viewer and nature.

Working as an artist-in-residence at Scripps Oceanography, Iyvone used different sounds — like Tibetan singing bowls, music and human heartbeats — to stimulate the cells which create patterns of light emission from dinoflagellates. She then captured their light by way of 4K video at high magnification.

Living organisms, like dinoflagellates, produce light through a chemical reaction involving the molecule luciferin and the enzyme luciferase. With the assistance of luciferase, luciferin reacts with oxygen, and energy is released in the form of visible light — from blue to green and sometimes yellow, red, and infrared light.

They use this light for survival, as a way of camouflage, protection, communication, attraction and hunting.

In the Infinity Cube, 24 of Iyvone’s filmed videos come together to create an incredible sensorial space and an experience able to bring you into the depths of life at a cellular level.

“I learned to respect the organism,” Iyvone says with a smile when asked about her 11-12 hour days spent filming in the lab, “rather than thinking they would glow on command.”

Michael Latz, a UC San Diego scientist, has been studying bioluminescence in deep-sea and planktonic organisms for over 35 years. He manages the artist-in-residence program in his lab and offers artists like Iyvone the ability to develop creative approaches towards bioluminescence.

In doing so, Dr. Latz allows the technical aspects of science to be communicated through the aesthetics of art — the essence of collaborative creativity.

Standing inside of the Infinity Cube will produce individually unique experiences for different viewers — from excitement, to stillness, to awe.

This 8-foot cube installation, funded by Rick and Patty Elkus with support from the National Science Foundation, surrounds viewers entirely with a projection and reflection of Iyvone’s filmed footage and the sounds she used to stimulate the dinoflagellates and create their subsequent bioluminescent glow.

The reverberation of the sounds within the space will make you feel as if you, too, are part of the experience.

Through this project, Iyvone hopes to raise public awareness of how we as a species relate and communicate with our natural world.

“There are energy, vibration and songs in everything,” Iyvone says, “one just has to find them — even at a microscopic level.”

The Infinity Cube will be on display until December 31st, 2017 and is included in Birch Aquarium admission ($18.50 for adults and $14 for children ages 3-17). Proceeds support exhibits and educational programming at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

The aquarium is a public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and sits atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean — the perfect place to feel inspired and reminded of the natural beauty that abounds, and swims, all around us.

For more information on the amazing Singaporean artist Iyvone Khoo and the ways in which she uses lens-based media to capture glimpses of an experience — visit her website www.iyvonekhoo.co.uk.