Phil Ross


A description of Philip Ross's Artist Residency during January 26-30 2009 at The Center for Integrated Media at the California Institute of the Arts

Models for explaining biological phenomena often rely upon graphic and static frames to illuminate our understanding of dynamic processes—phenomena that unfold in form and time. While computer animation has allowed for a cinematic exploration of the microscopic realm within the cell, there are other possibilities for describing these subtle activities that give rise to life. Molecumersion is an immersive biological gaming environment I am developing, in which participants can experience the group behavior of atomic scale phenomena through emergent gestural movements and interactions. In this environment it will be possible to feel the qualities of molecular relationships, and to physically participate in the unfolding of these complex energetic exchanges.

For my residency at The Center for Integrated Media I worked with students, dancers and scientists to create a charette for Molecumersion, with the intention of characterizing and recording experiments in the translation of bimolecular phenomena into symbolic actions.

The week started with a lecture and discussion on the history of modeling biological phenomena, how these models challenge our understanding of the greater material world, and alternative perspectives on the phenomenology of the living. Throughout the week I invited several visitors to come and work with the group to advise, advocate, and contribute to the direction of the project. These guests included molecular and system biologists, anthropologists of science, game programmers and choreographers. As a group we devised the exercises and instructions for future versions of Molecumersion. As part of its online project called "Home and Garden," has published a photo record of the movement workshop and excerpts from the roundtable discussion that followed.

—Phil Ross