Augmented Reality: Exploring Plankton Life in the Muddy Waters

Hudson Valley Muddy Waters makes visible the microscopic life that is key to the health of our forests and streams. The work demonstrates how Augmented Reality and creative imaging can expand the role of the artist in facilitating deeper public connections with the material of science and the macro/microscopic environment.


Explore the image below to discover the hidden images of live freshwater plankton in Hudson Valley Muddy Waters, recalling the muddy waters of Eden Village.


To activate the Augmented Reality on your own device, scan the QR code to the right, which will prompt you to download and install Aurasma on your smart phone or tablet, and lead you to the right channel.


Hudson Valley Muddy Waters invites viewers to enter the world of muddy water.  It is a reflection on the larger meanings of life, as it reveals the hidden but vital microscopic creatures who comprise the most basic part of our food chain and our world.

The objective is not representation of visual details, rather it is the representation of sensation.  Looking through the microscope organisms dart across the field of vision so quickly that it is impossible to plan for their appearance.  Life is everywhere, even in the murkiest of waters.  Here, the movement is sometimes slowed down or even momentarily stopped.  Similarly. colors under the microscope are too yellow, too artificial, and devoid of the feelings of nature.  The colors in this videos are transformed for feelings of depth and movement.


This project was funded in part by the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council Collaborative Research

award; thanks to the researchers in the Menden-Deuer lab, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, who provided information on plankton and thoughtful insights on communicating the aesthetics of science through engaging dialogues on the depiction of the real and the mediated. Thanks also to Art Kibbutz for the artist residency which began the project, and to the Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design, which provided microscopic equipment through the EPSCoR grant EPS-1004057, and valuable expertise on micro-imaging.

Cynthia Beth Rubin   ©2020