Artist Statement

Turritopsis Nutricula is an interactive jellyfish robot that exhibits different behaviors based on the proximity of the user. The project is named after a species of jellyfish that is able to repeatedly revert itself to a primary state after having reached maturity, rendering it potentially immortal. The subject of immortality is an intriguing one: something unfathomable and therefore greatly desired. It has always been associated with mythical creatures, and learning of its existence in nature compelled me to translate this notion into a visual interpretation. The project embodies the ability to cheat death when it approaches, and therefore disregard the constrain of time as we know it.

The user is faced with a sculptural interpretation of a jellyfish. The body of the jellyfish is composed of a patterned frosted glass dome, and thin, semi-transparent plastic strips for its tentacles. When not interacted with, the jellyfish is in “breathing” mode: florescent blue LED’s slowly fade in and out symbolizing breathing and life. Each breath marks the passing of time and the progression of age. When the user hovers on top of the jellyfish, or places their hand close enough, a sensor triggers the tentacles to move up and down and the body to change color to a bright white that flashes with each movement of the tentacles. The white is representative of the “rebirth”: the end as well as the beginning of another life cycle. The proximity of the user symbolizes death and the threat of mortality. When the jellyfish feels death is approaching, it responds by rebirthing itself, just as it would in nature. The viewers get to impersonate death themselves, as they have the power to trigger this rebirth, while experiencing a close up view of life cheating death.

This interaction between the user and the jellyfish is made possible through an Infrared Proximity Sensor that inputs the user’s distance and outputs different modes of the code stored in the Arduino. If the user is inside the required range, the jellyfish exhibits “rebirth” mode, and if they are not, it reverts back to “breathing” mode. The interaction allows for the user to play an active role in the life cycle of the jellyfish, just as adverse conditions in nature cause the jellyfish to turn back to its polyp stage whenever they feel the need. The jellyfish can revert at any stage of maturity, as they respond to their surroundings, just as the user can interact at anytime, with no length of time required between rebirths. The project is an interesting visual interpretation of immortality based on a real life occurrence in nature, and a celebration of the miracle of this phenomenon.

 

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