Bioluminescent Pathfinding


In the age of antroposcene humans leave irreversible footprint on the Earth. However, if we have the power to destroy life, we should have the power to trigger life back to existence. How can we visualize the power of humanity to actuate life?

Related Work:

This startup was intended to fund bioluminescent shop fronts, public spaces, and installations with bacteria found among squid. The bacterium is non-pathogenic and non-toxic. The benefits brought from this bioluminescence were intended for no electrical cost for shop owners as well as a decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. With minor setbacks as longevity of the bacterium, this idea of involving bioluminescence in an urban environment was inspiring for this project.

The above link showcases a naturally occurring bioluminescent environment. Although this cave system would not be considered an urban, nevertheless the encapsulation of space provides social opportunity of housing bioluminescence. This occurrence relates to humanity leaving a footprint on the environment as the cave used to be a railway but once it was dug up, the natural environment took the cave for its own habitat.

The art installation above a replication of bioluminescence that was placed in a harbor. The installation included a quality sensor that tested the pH levels of the water, and changing the colors of the “bio-actuator” for the appropriate value. Green light emissions represented  reasonably “good” conditions and red emissions for considerably “bad” conditions. 

The idea:

The project is a combination of bioluminescence and urban revitalization. Interactive, explorative navigation systems will lead people to circumstantial events: festivals, markets, exhibitions and other social and commercial activities.

Dynamic urban environments and human movements are in intertwined in these spaces to actuate changes to agitated bioluminescent pathways.

Impact of project:

Beyond the direct impact of providing illumination to urban areas, these interactive environment systems would influence and attract people to explore new, familiar places. The involvement of communities exploring new location would create social experience that would become engrained into a cultural growth in urban environment. Thus revitalizing areas lesser traveled otherwise without the embedded system.

Additional effect that may occur are related to the algae being spread throughout urban environments. The algae would require some alternative food source to maintain brightness through its luminous cycle. Regarding consumptions for energy, the algae as well as it’s food resources can become introduced and consumed by other organisms and bacteria. Although the consequences of introducing algae into this ecology are unknown, nevertheless they will create an impact through the urban environment.


An experimental space showcases how life is actuated and changed by human activity. Visitors can experience on-site changes in their environment based upon their movement and current social interactions.

Parts list:

  • Algae Kit
  • Capacitive sensor
  • UV/Light sensor
  • Air Quality sensor
  • Microphones
  • Camera
  • Speakers
  • Motors
  • Processing board

Timeline and milestone:




Loren Benally – Fabrication, Programming
Veronika Volkova – Presentations, Graphics
Ryan Wertz – Electronics
Jacob Sully – Programming, Fabrication and design



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