The Radiance Below

Something I saw in a recent issue of Smithsonian magazine led me to vicariously visit a world of darkness many, many leagues under the sea, a place where organisms subsist by way of a reactive chemical process that allows them to navigate their way through existence in the blackest of environments.

Bioluminescence, as it’s known, results in various forms of marine life emitting light, often glowing in colorful, beautiful patterns, as a means of adapting to the harsh circumstances of survival without benefit of the sun.

A real-life ctenophore (comb jelly), in full glory

Artist Shih Chieh Huang, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, was clearly captivated by the concept of bioluminescence, and his inspiration is displayed in The Bright Beneath, left, an exhibition currently on view at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Working closely with museum scientists, and with access to a collection of millions of specimens for research, Huang created a mix of lights, computer parts, plastic tubes, and other assorted items, that are an artistic interpretation of what it might be like to encounter these complex ocean creatures, suspended amidst the dimmed lights of the gallery space.

Of course, the really spectacular light show takes place in a world far removed from that of museums (brief clip here). But projects like Huang’s remind again of the creative bond shared by the spheres of art and science. (The Bright Beneath is at the Museum of Natural History through January 8.)

Advertisements

COMMENT (Other fields optional)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s