The exhibit features an isolated, airtight space containing a colony of algae. The carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors is used for photosynthesis and growth a by-product of which is oxygen needed by the visitors. The installation has been formed as a living system between the algae and the visitors.
The light in the space changes cyclically; like inhalation and exhalation, the bright white light alternates with the violet light with a wavelength of 430 nanometers.
The living green algae fluoresce red under violet light.
The red fluorescence is created by the green pigment chlorophyll (Greek:
χλωρος, chloros — "green", φύλλον, phyllon — "leaf"), that can be found in almost every plant, in algae and cyanobacteria. Chlorophyll participates in the process of photosynthesis, the creation of organic matter from inorganic substances under the influence of light.
The more viewers there are, the more they supply the carbon dioxide gas algae need to live. They multiply and the red fluorescence becomes more powerful. If there are no viewers, the algae suffocate in the isolated space and the dead mass of green algae no longer fluoresce red under the violet light.
The situation in the exhibition space has been artificially constructed because in nature, we need plants more than they need us. Plants, algae and bacteria are the only forms of life on earth capable of taking energy from an external source – a distant star – the Sun and, through the process of photosynthesis, to create food and energy supplies on the planet Earth. Plants create life from light.
The single cell algae used in the installation are related to their predecessors in the green plant kingdom that 2.5 billion years ago produced oxygen and created the earth's atmosphere – the blue sky and the chance for other life forms to develop.
The work was created in collaboration with microbiologist Jānis Liepiņš M.Sc, in consultation with hydrobiologist Mārīte Pfeifere M.Sc and with the support of the Neonite company. Sound Kaspars Groševs.