China Blue: Firefly Projects

Firefly 2.0 by China Blue

“Firefly Projects” is an exhibition of biomimetic artworks incorporating lights, sound, robotics and forms inspired by and mimicking fireflies while commenting on the fragility of our ecosystem.  This new group of works expands on her interest in the sonic environment.  For almost a decade and a half China Blue has been immersed in creating sound art works that focus on turning data into sound, a process called “sonification.”  This exhibition continues that line of investigation while providing a lush visual and sonic environment to contemplate the firefly as metaphor for our fragile ecosystem.

“Firefly Projects” advances Blue’s body of work “The Seventh Kingdom.” This is a selection of active, interactive and reactive works based on the emergence of new biological forms from the wastes of older ones. Her recent work embraces data sonification while highlighting the issues of global warming and its impact on ecosystems. Many of these artworks are biomimetic, meaning that they imitate nature using human-made processes, substances, devices or systems.

Among the works that will  be on display at the Newport Art Museum is The Firefly Tree, a 7.5 foot piece fabricated with repurposed architectural forms and power cables, wooden dowels, speakers and blue LED lights. This biomimetic work is based on firefly light signaling. Another work made from recycled materials is Firefly 2.0, a whimsical skittering artbot that lights up randomly and resembles a firefly.

The fairy-like light shows created by fireflies that delighted us at dusk 20 years ago have been disappearing from urban settings. Light pollution from our buildings, cars and streetlights “drowns” the display, making it difficult for male and female fireflies to find each other.

” ‘Where have all of the fireflies gone?’ is a commonly heard despair,” says Blue. “The firefly or lightning bug is an insect that has fascinated people for probably as long as humans have known of them… Today people mourn their loss.” 

China Blue is also interested in the hidden acoustics of our world. In 2007, she became the first person to document sounds emanating from the iron of the Eiffel Tower: the wind against the surfaces of the steel, the intermittent rumbles as the elevators moved up and down. In 2008, Blue created Aqua Alta, an immersive sound experience that captured the unique sounds of the waters of Venice and the gondolas that glide through them. Aqua Alta was installed at “OPEN XI,” the “International Exhibition of Sculpture and Installations” held in conjunction with the “Architecture Biennale” at Isola di San Servolo, Venice, Italy. 

China Blue is a two-time NASA grant recipient and an internationally exhibiting artist who was the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris France. Her work has been shown in galleries, museums and non-profit spaces in Finland, Sweden, France, Italy, UK and the US. Her work has also been shown at the “Melbourne International Arts Festival” in Australia and the “The Armory Show” in New York City. Reviews of her work have been published in the New York Times, Art in America, Art Forum, artCritical and NY Arts to name a few. She has been interviewed by France 3 (TV), for the film “Com-mu-nity” produced by the Architecture Institute of America and was the featured artist for the 2006 annual meeting of the Acoustic Society of America. She has been an adjunct professor and Fellow at Brown University in the United States and has been an invited speaker at Yale and MIT.  She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Engine Institute, which supports artistic exploration at the frontiers of science.

“China Blue’s work joins a larger movement in contemporary art that has returned to the subject matter of nature in an effort to find either new meaning or create new metaphors, except focuses on sustainability and the re-use of recyclable materials. …. China Blue’s work emerges from the subjective-objective dichotomy that is shameless in its fabrication while suggesting an authenticity that occurs through the creation of an action for every reaction.” 

Jill Conner, New York Editor, Whitehot Magazine and contributor to Art in America

For videos of the work click here.

Associated Event:

China Blue will talk about her work and the exhibition “Firefly Projects” during an informal Gallery Talk at the Newport Art Museum on Thursday, July 14 beginning at 5:30 pm. This free event is part of Gallery Night in Newport. On Gallery Night, the Museum is open 5 – 8 pm and admission is free.

June 4 – September 5, 2011

Opening June 10, 5:00-7:00

Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI

China Blue

China Blue

China Blue is an award winning international artist whose current work focuses on the brain. Brainwaves of individuals, sensed through her customized EEG software, control the light and sound of an interactive sculpture and also dynamically create personal mind produced drawings. Over the past two decades she has created sound art works that focus on researching and developing data sonification. This has lead to discovering the hidden acoustics imbedded in the iron of the Eiffel Tower, submerged in Venice’s water or encased in NASA’s Vertical Gun chamber. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Engine Institute.
China Blue

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About China Blue

China Blue is an award winning international artist whose current work focuses on the brain. Brainwaves of individuals, sensed through her customized EEG software, control the light and sound of an interactive sculpture and also dynamically create personal mind produced drawings. Over the past two decades she has created sound art works that focus on researching and developing data sonification. This has lead to discovering the hidden acoustics imbedded in the iron of the Eiffel Tower, submerged in Venice’s water or encased in NASA’s Vertical Gun chamber. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Engine Institute.
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