Hudson Valley: 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.



In this Augmented Reality installation, Cynthia Beth Rubin reverses the usual relationship of “real” to “aesthetically mediated” by presenting a painterly digital image as point of departure onto which “reality” is layered, rather than the other way around. Employing the app Aurasma, the viewer is prompted to experience the thrill of discovering microscopic life in water via short videos of an actual stream and video micro captures from the same site.

Installation Views

Art in Public Space

Screening of Eden Waters. July 2014

New York City, New York USA

Savonna Bailey and Linda Griggs, curators

The primary public space of our world is the universal space of environmental waters, home to the unseen microscopic life that provides the most elemental life on the food chain. Urban space, all space, depends on the hidden qualities of the water, the activities of the micro-organisms that are the pulse of the ocean.

Bringing awareness of this hidden life to the urban setting, where layers of culture intertwine with the visible environment but rarely with the invisible, is one of the imperatives of our time. The challenge is how do we engage the public in a narrative that includes a true artistic dialogue?

Governor’s Island, August 2014
Curated by Yona Verwer
Art Kibbutz exhibition “The Jewish Waltz with Planet Earth”
small still image and with video shown at:
Fountain Art Fair, curated by Linda Griggs
Governor’s Island, curated by Yona Verwer

Sample Video

Still Images

Eden Waters Video

Imagine life as a microscopic aquatic creature in the season of beginnings. Eden Waters is digitally composited from manipulated video captures of life in fresh water taken from a muddy stream in the Hudson Valley, in June, 2013, just as the ground and waters began to warm. The layers of teaming life represent represent the emergence of life in the early spring of our Earth. They also simulate the imagined experience of swimming through the water, as well as the artist’s own experience of focusing through the microscope, going from mud to discovering amazing lifeforms, to later viewing only bacteria as the freshwater plankton disappeared in the warmth of the laboratory. The work was begun during the “Art Kibbutz” artist residency.  The actual video micro-captures were done in the lab with small drops of water from the source. All imagery was found, digitized, and modified by Cynthia Beth Rubin.



2014 Dance with the Earth, Art Kibbutz exhibition, Governor’s Island NY, NY

2014 Under the Viaduct: West Harlem Art Fund New York NY July

Artist Talks

LISA series, 2015 NY, NY

ISEA 2014 Dubai, UAE