Cryptographic Beings – Biology as digital storage

Created by Michael Sedbon, ‘Cryptographic Beings’ is a technological proposal that leverages our ability to control and abstract biology to perform digital information storage. The installation relies on Aegagropila linnaei (a ball of algae), their large spherical colonies of photosynthetic filaments. Photosynthetic activity produces gas vesicles visible to the naked eye which allows them to float when exposed to light and sink in the dark. By reducing their behaviors to binary states, they can be used to store digital data. A sinking algae represents a 0 whereas a floating algae represents a 1. Assembled in bytes, the setup is capable of storing a 5 letter word. By controlling the position of the lights, this setup is able to flip vegetal bits.

The first part of the 20th-century witnessed simultaneously the discovery of the basis of information storage in DNA and the revolutions of the modern computing era. Since then, the fields of computer science and modern biology have co-evolved in a conceptual framework that looks at life as an information processing system and at digital computations as Intelligence. These metaphors allowed these fields to influence each other in practice: engineering workflows have been introduced in biology and bio-mimetism led to the implementation of new kinds of algorithms. While this relationship has been limited to a conceptual nature for long, we are now building bio-hybrid robots and complex systems interacting through hard, soft, and wet mediums. If these new kinds of machines find applications in various fields such as medicine, computing, architecture and design, they also deeply question our conception of what is life.

Michael Sedbon

Created using custom electronics, Esp8266, TouchDesigner, Web Technologies and Aegagropila linnaei (Marimos).

Project Page | Michael Sedbon

The project was produced as a part of Au Delá des Pixels – produced and curated by 36 degrés.