Fish Curious
by Justin Manor
masxxx Final Project

In 1994, four Japanese killifish made a space travel of 15 days aboard the space shuttle Columbia. These four lucky fish performed the first successful vertebrate mating in space. Moreover, the eggs the fish laid in space developed normally, and hatched as healthy babies. Fish Curious is an homage to our prolific and ancient spine-bearing ancestors.

11M qtime - music by mr scruff

The piece consists of a plasma screen laid on its back table style and wrapped with a printout of rocks and foam. Laser-cut lexan lily pads on featherweight switches are attached to the screen. All of the switches are inputs into a WildCat single-board computer which in turn notifies the display software which pad the user pressed. The image on the screen is of a pond filled with several fish which swim around casually until someone touches a lily pad. The graphics software was written in the Pr0ce55ing language.

Until the 16th century, the new year was celebrated at the advent of spring, near April 1st. In 1584, when the Gregorian calendar was introduced, King Charles IX of France ruled that New Year's Day be moved to January 1st. Some of Charles' subjects refused to adopt the new calendar, and continued to observe the new year around April 1st. Naturally, these individuals were the butt of many jokes and taunting, and earned the name "Poisson d'Avril" (April Fish) because at that time of year the sun was in the zodiac sign of Pisces, the fish. Years later the tradition has evolved and lived on in many European countries and the United States as April Fools day. By touching the lily pads one is in fact playing a little trick on the fishies. The water is perturbed and ripples are sent out. They think that they are being fed and flock toward you.

by Rob MacIntosh

Japanese gardens originated from a profound relationship between people and nature. As artistic expressions of this relationship, Japanese gardens provide invaluable lessons regarding the design of harmonious environments. Fish Curious in an attempt in that direction. One cannot harm or eat the fish, and they certainly can do very little to cause us discomfort. The user gives them something to do, and they provide him or her with a somewhat captive audience. Most of the time the fish react to the users disturbance to the surface of the water. Sometimes they just don't care though. A little bit of boredom was programmed into the fishes' AI to give them some personality. There is also variation in their speed and bravery (how close they approach).

Using the same type of gene transfer techniques that give plants new, more desirable traits, scientists have created a genetically engineered variety of Atlantic salmon that grows to market weight in about 18 months, compared to the 24 to 30 months that it normally takes for a fish to reach that size. For fish farmers, raising these so-called transgenic fish could be faster and cheaper because it takes less feed and about half the time to produce a crop they can send to market. Fish Curious may not save the world from hunger, but genetic engineering just might.