by Amy Karle, 2024

Multi Media Installation

This artwork was made possible through the collaborative efforts and generous support from:
*Creative technology solutions developed in collaboration with Sefa Sagir and Bartosz Wyszynski including interactive system design in collaboration with Bartosz Wyszynski and sound design in collaboration with Sefa Sagir,
*Data and network engineering, Wiktor Krokosz,
*Support from Sapporo International Art Festival 2024 (SIAF2024) and team,
*Sponsorship from LifeShip,
*Support from the Goethe-Institut Irland as part of the Studio Quantum residency 2023
and all those who made this project possible through their support, knowledge, and contributions.

In this digital era, what will you leave behind and what do these remnants say about you?

Echoes From the Valley of Existence is an interactive artwork that engages participants to consider how their biological and digital remains echo through time and space.

The artwork reflects visitor’s bio-digital echoes through real-time body tracking, biometrics, and the mirroring of a person in digital form modified by current environmental conditions. The artwork offers the opportunity to leave messages and DNA for the future, creating an experience that prompts questions on the boundaries of human existence and bio-digital afterlife or “other life” in a technologically integrated future.

As part of this piece, an ensemble of imagery, text, data, and DNA from this installation will be preserved in an archive that will be launched into space and embedded on the moon.

The key concept to consider is our bio-digital afterlife – what we leave and how that potentially may be used in the future, how we may “echo” through time into the future.

The artwork explores the interplay between physical and digital realms and represents a bio-technologically integrated future where our bodies, beings, and environment eclipse 
in a poetic piece of ultra-contemporary art.

Echoes From the Valley of Existence explores life’s impermanence and the potentials for bio and digital afterlife or ‘otherlife’. Participants engage as contributors, and the piece reacts and responds to the presence and actions of its viewers. The installation navigates the extension of our existence and identity in technological realms, the bio-digital information we leave behind, and what may happen to those remains in the future.

This artwork not only explores echoes of humanity through digital and biological contributions in real time engagement with the artwork but then also sends those contributions of image, text, data and DNA to the Moon as part of an archive and seed for the future to be embedded on the lunar surface, prompting contemplation about our place in the universe and how we may echo into the future and cosmos.

Upon approaching the artwork, visitors are greeted with the decision of whether to partake in the interactive elements of facial and body tracking, and the submission of text and or DNA.  This juncture invites participants to approach the engagement as a ritual, consciously considering what one will be leaving and how it could be used in a distant future.
Wether one participates or not – this is where interesting discussions arise.

Over the course of 37 days, 7,758 messages were left and ~5,600 participants left their DNA
while Echoes From The Valley Of Existence was exhibited at the Sapporo International Art Festival 2024

Evoking the essence of an eclipse, this interactive installation responds to human presence and interaction, creating a space where participants may witness their bio-digital reflection from responsive bio-data body tracking capture, biometric signals, text, soundscapes, and visual art generated in real time from their engagement. Participants engage on a personal level, witnessing their bio-digital avatars, leaving messages, and even their genetic imprint within the work—echoes of their existence beyond their presence in their living bodies. 

The work integrates various elements—such as human engagement, interactive data from infrared cameras, facial recognition, body tracking, text input, sound frequencies, environmental factors, DNA input, time, and space travel — to pose the question of how these elements interact, creating a rich, multi-layered experience that not only engages participants on multiple sensory levels but also prompts them to contemplate deeper questions about the digitization, recording, and preserving of human existence and what we leave in digital other life/afterlife. 

The mirroring of oneself across biological, digital, and quantum dimensions allows the audience to interact with and witness their own echoes through these realms.

The front custom display dynamically transforms as participants approach, reflecting their presence and motion, shifting in size, color, pattern, and shape in quantum-referenced imagery, symbolizing a future where technology is made of atoms, the basic unit of all matter, a future were the line between technology and the self may be even more fluid.

The rear display offers a more direct reflection of the audience’s presence, intertwining their digital twin with text inputs. This creates an experience of disembodiment into the digital, or a digital phantom limb sensation, heightened by the illusion of movement in the reflections even when the viewer is still.

The soundscape complements this quantum technology theme, leveraging waveforms rooted in quantum physics and healing frequencies researched at Stanford University and frequencies that effect cymatics of heart cells. This auditory element symbolizes and immerses visitors in the convergence of the physical and technological worlds – their biology echoed in digital music grounded in quantum physics principles. The soundscape resonates with responsive aspects of the artwork, creating a sensory echo that enhances the piece’s impact and potentially guides participants into varied states of consciousness. Many visitors have reported a sense of relaxation or peace.

The use of interactive, generative elements and AI within the artwork amplifies these themes, offering an interactive and generative dimension that dynamically responds to and evolves with participant interaction. This not only enhances the immersive experience but also serves as a metaphor for the evolving nature of life, consciousness, and what remains in a technologically integrated future.

 Each element contributes to the overarching theme of bio-technological other life/afterlife as an echo of human existence. The interplay between these elements creates a dynamic, evolving experience that engages participants on multiple levels, encouraging reflection on the profound questions of life, legacy, and the intersection of humanity with technology. 

The prospect of embedding a part of oneself into a cosmic archive that transcends earthly existence adds a profound and, for some, a spiritual dimension to the experience.
It also invites deep thinking about how this could be used in the future.

DNA Contribution: 

As part of this installation, visitors are presented with a unique and symbolic opportunity to contribute their DNA to be preserved and sent to the moon. Participants may submit their samples securely at the installation site with a self-administered cheek swab alongside other participants’ DNA submissions (up to 10,000 swabs). These samples will be batch processed all together down into a powder. The DNA will not be attached to donors names, nor sequenced, nor will it be used in any way other than with this artwork, only physical molecules will be preserved in a polymer to be sent to the moon, along with data and images from this artwork by Sponsor LifeShip >.

This preserved DNA and data from the piece will be sent with other materials compiled by LifeShip and contributing partners, including: DNA of 1000+ species representing Earth’s biodiversity, a DNA population bank of humanity with 2000+ humans, scientific and mathematical knowledge, cultural contributions, photos, stories, data from humans, writing collections, art collections, messages from humanity, an AI Large Language Model, and a program designed to run and communicate with any future life that discovers it.

Would you leave your DNA or not leave your DNA?
Why or why not?

The act of sending DNA, data, and messages to the Moon not only captures the imagination but also raises contemplative questions about our place in the universe and what we leave for the future. The endeavor, reminiscent of interstellar messages sent in the past like the Voyager Golden Records, carries not only messages and data but also actual genetic blueprints of its contributors.  This will be included on archives scheduled to be launched into space and ultimately installed on the Moon through a lunar lander containing the capsule /archive on the AstroLab Rover launching on SpaceX Starship in 2026. The project, data and text messages from the project will also be on Firefly Aerospace Blue Ghost lunar lander on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket October 2024; and on the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive PRIME-1 Intuitive Machines 2, due to land on the moon November 2024. 

This initiative prompts us to imagine a future where our biological and cultural identities transcend bodily and planetary boundaries and extend into the cosmos.