HeatWaves is an immersive audiovisual installation and performance created in collaboration with the Hofmann Lab at the University of California Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute based on the visualization and sonification of scientific data. It was constructed via original software using the Allolib framework in C++ and custom shaders in GLSL, and presented in the near-360 degree Allosphere immersive virtual reality environment.
The HeatWaves simulation visualizes the destructive effects of marine heat waves on aquatic ecosystems and how the severity of these thermal events are being exacerbated by the ongoing effects of climate change. The conventional public understanding suffers from the misconception that climate change only affects terrestrial ecosystems. However, aquatic environments suffer equally; offshore ecosystems have been subjected to terrible losses within just the last 10 years. HeatWaves seeks to present the unseen beauty of these marine spaces through an abstract artistic representation, and raise awareness about the impact of climate change on our oceans before it is too late to reverse course.
The project required the management, interpretation, and mapping of data sets collected by the Hofmann Lab to create an intricate biomimetic simulation of species in an aquatic ecosystem, balancing aesthetic vision against scientific integrity. The simulation is composed of aquatic and vegetative agents whose positions, behaviors, and populations are influenced by species data collected from several discrete sites in the Santa Barbara Channel. The overall behavior of the simulation is altered and agitated based on daily temperature data collected from the same locations.