NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, WASHINGTON D.C.


Blue Dreams

Rebecca Rutstein and the Ocean Memory Project
March 15 – September 15, 2023

DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous & Closing Reception: Thurs Sept 7, 2023
National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Auditorium

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screenBlue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams (video still), immersive video projection on an 11' x 35' custom curved screen

Blue Dreams is an immersive video installation that integrates abstract imagery, rare deep sea video footage, and computer modeling (animating a painting by Rutstein) to portray the resilience of our planet’s smallest yet most vital living systems in the deep ocean. Microbial networks thrive in these extreme environments and are essential to the functioning of our planet: they produce the air we breathe, regulate ocean chemistry, and are the origins of life on Earth. This immersive piece is meant to inspire awe and wonder at these systems, processes and landscapes otherwise hidden from view, that connect us to our past and which we rely on for our own survival.

Blue Dreams was created by multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Rutstein in collaboration with scientists Rika Anderson, Samantha Joye, Shayn Peirce-Cottler and Tom Skalak, through a grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) Ocean Memory Project. 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.

Blue Dreams evolved through a year-long collaboration between its five contributors. Anderson, an environmental microbiologist at Carleton College, advised on marine microbial adaptation and resilience, microbial gene sharing networks, and the implications for exoplanet science and astrobiology. Joye, a marine biogeochemist at University of Georgia and explorer of diverse deep-sea environments, provided insight into the biogeochemistry of vent and seep systems, and the interplay of microbial networks with large-scale ecological processes. Skalak, a bioengineer, provided conceptual vision and insight into methods for abstracting the data into system models, including agent-based simulations that could provoke visualization of swarm and collective behaviors. Peirce-Cottler, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, created agent-based models of deep-sea microbial growth patterns generated from color patterns of original Rutstein paintings on the same subject. And multi-disciplinary artist Rutstein researched, synthesized, abstracted, and layered imagery, animation, video, and sound to create Blue Dreams.

This exhibition is 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.