"A Guided Sublimation" at MoMA for Biodesign Summit

special morning performance screening of "A Guided Sublimation" for the Biodesign Summit at ‍Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Multimedia Performance

"A Guided Sublimation" at MoMA for Biodesign Summit

June 14, 2024
Live Performance + Screening in MoMA's Titus 1 Theater Presented by Biodesign Summit
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
New York, NY
TRT: 20 minutes
animations, stereo sound, live vocal effects, performance with inflatable sculptures and book

About the Performance

This special performance screening adaptation of A Guided Sublimation was presented at the 2024 Biodesign Summit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Splan's live performance activates the screening with live vocals and gestures that allude to spirituality, ritual, and labor. “A Guided Sublimation” was originally commissioned as a full dome multisensory experience by the Vanderbilt Planetarium under the curation of Paul Rubery. The work uses epigenetics science to explore the interconnectedness of the natural world and the built environment by incorporating research on environmental influences on gene expression. The animations combine 3D molecular models with AI-generated landscapes. The accompanying soundscape was created in collaboration with a theoretical biophysicist, a biotech lab instrumentation engineer, and a heavy metal musician. This meditative audiovisual experience that invites you to sit back, relax and open your eyes.

Watch the Performance

About A Guided Sublimation

The conceptual underpinnings of A Guided Sublimation are drawn from research on environmental influences on gene expression, evoking notions of residues in both the abstract ethereal, and the biological. Drawing both inspiration and material from emerging research on the epigenetics effects on human health, the work explores the complex relationships between what is invisible and in plain sight, nature and nurture. Envisioned as a meditation on the microcosms of molecular bodies that are situated in a liminal space, the animations and soundscape are at once biological, technological, and cosmological. Conflating and confusing this sense of scale, Splan explores the sublime, imposing the micro onto the macro. The animations create a kind of science fiction, offering a multitude of perceptual experiences, creating new senses of scale, time, and magnitude.

The animations were created using 3D molecular models of nucleosomes that reflect AI-generated landscapes created using scientific text prompts excerpted from epigenetics research. The mirrored surfaces of histones and DNA reflect idyllic landscapes that are otherwise invisible in the animations. The text excerpts were chosen in collaboration with Hannah Lui Park (UC Irvine School of Medicine Park Lab) from Park’s studies of DNA methylation markers that indicate pesticide exposure and examines their relationship to epigenetics.

The recorded narration, written and read by Splan, uses conventions of guided meditation and educational planetarium programming to lead viewers through a series of biophysical mechanisms. These mechanisms, which range from DNA methylation to the organization of DNA inside cells, are all intimate processes that texture the narrative journey of the work. Portions of the text are inspired by emerging epigenetics research on the transgenerational inheritance of sensitivities to environmental stimuli such as scent.

The accompanying soundscape was created in collaboration with theoretical biophysicist Adam Lamson using synthesized sonifications of his chromatin simulations. Splan composed the resulting sound files into MIDI instrument arrangements, creating an ethereal soundscape. Splan’s practice is deeply collaborative, working with a diversity of musicians to generate additional layered elements of sound. Biotech lab instrumentation engineer and musician Frank Masciocchi created an electric guitar composition inspired by a symphonic structure of four movements. Heavy metal musician Jared Warren (Big Business, Melvins) contributed vocals that punctuate the movements.

Splan’s presentation for BDC at MoMA celebrates the release of a new limited-edition double vinyl LP and print portfolio box set. The vinyl for the edition was produced in collaboration with arts technologist KamranV of CyKiK using Phonocut, a unique push button vinyl recording device he developed.

About the Performance

This special performance screening adaptation of A Guided Sublimation was presented at the 2024 Biodesign Summit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Splan's live performance activates the screening with live vocals and gestures that allude to spirituality, ritual, and labor. “A Guided Sublimation” was originally commissioned as a full dome multisensory experience by the Vanderbilt Planetarium under the curation of Paul Rubery. The work uses epigenetics science to explore the interconnectedness of the natural world and the built environment by incorporating research on environmental influences on gene expression. The animations combine 3D molecular models with AI-generated landscapes. The accompanying soundscape was created in collaboration with a theoretical biophysicist, a biotech lab instrumentation engineer, and a heavy metal musician. This meditative audiovisual experience that invites you to sit back, relax and open your eyes.

Watch the Performance

About A Guided Sublimation

The conceptual underpinnings of A Guided Sublimation are drawn from research on environmental influences on gene expression, evoking notions of residues in both the abstract ethereal, and the biological. Drawing both inspiration and material from emerging research on the epigenetics effects on human health, the work explores the complex relationships between what is invisible and in plain sight, nature and nurture. Envisioned as a meditation on the microcosms of molecular bodies that are situated in a liminal space, the animations and soundscape are at once biological, technological, and cosmological. Conflating and confusing this sense of scale, Splan explores the sublime, imposing the micro onto the macro. The animations create a kind of science fiction, offering a multitude of perceptual experiences, creating new senses of scale, time, and magnitude.

The animations were created using 3D molecular models of nucleosomes that reflect AI-generated landscapes created using scientific text prompts excerpted from epigenetics research. The mirrored surfaces of histones and DNA reflect idyllic landscapes that are otherwise invisible in the animations. The text excerpts were chosen in collaboration with Hannah Lui Park (UC Irvine School of Medicine Park Lab) from Park’s studies of DNA methylation markers that indicate pesticide exposure and examines their relationship to epigenetics.

The recorded narration, written and read by Splan, uses conventions of guided meditation and educational planetarium programming to lead viewers through a series of biophysical mechanisms. These mechanisms, which range from DNA methylation to the organization of DNA inside cells, are all intimate processes that texture the narrative journey of the work. Portions of the text are inspired by emerging epigenetics research on the transgenerational inheritance of sensitivities to environmental stimuli such as scent.

The accompanying soundscape was created in collaboration with theoretical biophysicist Adam Lamson using synthesized sonifications of his chromatin simulations. Splan composed the resulting sound files into MIDI instrument arrangements, creating an ethereal soundscape. Splan’s practice is deeply collaborative, working with a diversity of musicians to generate additional layered elements of sound. Biotech lab instrumentation engineer and musician Frank Masciocchi created an electric guitar composition inspired by a symphonic structure of four movements. Heavy metal musician Jared Warren (Big Business, Melvins) contributed vocals that punctuate the movements.

Splan’s presentation for BDC at MoMA celebrates the release of a new limited-edition double vinyl LP and print portfolio box set. The vinyl for the edition was produced in collaboration with arts technologist KamranV of CyKiK using Phonocut, a unique push button vinyl recording device he developed.

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MOMA
Wave Farm
NY State Council on the Arts
Special Thanks

MoMA Department of Film: Sean Egan (Senior Producer) and Carson Parish (Associate Producer)

Project Support

This work was made possible by the Simons Foundation. Created in collaboration with Adam Lamson, Science Collaborator and theoretical biophysicist at Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation.

A Guided Sublimation is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature through the Media Arts Assistance Fund a regrant partnership of NYSCA and Wave Farm.

This work was made possible in part by the Vanderbilt Museum for the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium with support from the Rochester Area Community Foundation.