Blue Dreams
Rebecca Rutstein & the Ocean Memory Project

March 15 – September 15, 2023

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. Washington D.C.


Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams, Installation View, Immersive two-channel video projection on 11x35' custom curved screen.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.
Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.
Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.

Blue Dreams Closing Event & Reception: DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous, Sept 7, 2023.
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Blue Dreams, Video Still

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Blue Dreams, Video Still

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Blue Dreams, Video Still

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Blue Dreams, Video Still

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Blue Dreams, Video Still

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Blue Dreams, Video Still

ABOUT BLUE DREAMS

Blue Dreams is an immersive video installation that integrates abstract imagery, rare deep sea video footage, and computer modeling to portray the resilience and growth of microbial networks, our planet’s smallest yet most vital living systems in the deep ocean. Blue Dreams flows between micro and macro worlds to illuminate the otherworldly beauty of hydrothermal geologic features with microbial webs of interactivity which thrive in these extreme environments. Widely believed to be the origins of life on our planet, the world captured in Blue Dreams is a window into ancient processes happening right now. Often overlooked but critical systems, deep sea microbes are essential to the functioning of our planet and key to our own survival: they regulate global ocean chemistry and even mediate the air we breathe. By shedding light on these hidden yet vast, indispensable networks, we hope to create a deeper sense of connection to foster empathy and stewardship of our oceans in the face of our climate crisis.

Multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Rutstein created Blue Dreams with scientists through a grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative’s Ocean Memory Project*. The work evolved over a one-year period in conversation and collaboration with microbiologist Rika Anderson, geochemist Samantha Joye, Professor of biomedical engineering Shayn Peirce-Cottler and bioengineer Tom Skalak. Rutstein developed an original, layered, abstracted visual language which combined agent-based modeling simulating microbial growth (generated from patterns in Rutstein’s paintings), rare deep-sea video footage of Guaymas Basin in Mexico, and layering of other imagery and sound. An 11 x 35 foot custom curved screen was built for the museum exhibition space to immerse the viewer in a wide format, two-channel video installation. Wide-ranging outreach through events, press, speaking engagements, lectures, podcast interviews, and a documentary film (in progress) took place to share Blue Dreams with the public.

“With every drop of water we drink, with every breath we take, we are connected back to the sea.” – Sylvia Earle

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This exhibition was organized by Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences.
Generous support was provided by Schmidt Ocean Institute.
Additional support provided by Nancy Rabalais, Jody Deming, and Richard Lenski.

Portions of underwater video footage used in Blue Dreams were captured in Guaymas Basin, Mexico on the R/V Falkor (FK190211) expedition from February-March 2019 led by collaborator Mandy Joye. We are grateful to Schmidt Ocean Institute for use of this footage.
Select video footage courtesy Alexander Semenov
Select audio clips courtesy Lukas Tvrdon

*The Ocean Memory Project is a transdisciplinary group of researchers across the arts, sciences and humanities exploring ways in which the ocean retains memories. Through this lens, the ocean and its inhabitants are an interconnected system with agency and memory, where environmental changes are recorded within living things and through dynamic processes within the ocean structure itself.