The Ocean is Calling: Awesome Plankton

The Ocean is Calling is a free participatory evening art and science event, that comprises a large shadow theatre where people can play with shapes that are created for the event, or they can create their own with the material and instruction provided. The shadow theatre is lit with hues of changing blues, and a soft music plays, in which marine animals sounds can be heard.
The theme focuses on the importance of the ocean, in the age of climate change. The playful activity combined with an immersive experience of light help people think about specific aspects of marine life and the threats it faces today.
There are 4 sub-themes, one for each night:
– Awesome Plankton
– Extinct Species
– Plastic Pollution
– Life on the Coral Reef
For each night, specific shapes made of cardboard, are prepared for the public.

AYA Youth participate the day of the event, activating the large shadow theatre if needed, also helping people making their own shadow puppets at the workshop table.
There is an additional workshop where participants can make their own self illuminated puppet.

People can play, stay, watch, ask questions about the science behind the art. The idea is to start a dialogue, plant a seed in people’s mind about important aspect of the natural world that are, for most of them, out of sight, out of mind.

Awesome Plankton
What happens in the sea is of out of sight out of mind, but the microscopic world of plankton greatly affects us as humans.  Plankton is the most significant life form on the planet and NASA has confirmed from satellites in space that marine phytoplankton produce at least 50% of the total oxygen we breathe. But, due to human activity the Earth’s oceans are beginning to warm and turn acidic, endangering plankton and the entire marine food chain.
Wonderful start for the series ‘The Ocean is Calling’ in Fountain Alley downtown San Jose. The first night was ‘Awesome Plankton’, the occasion to play with cool props and learn about these amazing animals and plants we depend and that are (mostly) invisible.
Visitors were invited to participate, play behind the screen with props and wearables, make their own shadow puppet, and/or watch. ‘Awesome Plankton’, is part of ‘The Ocean is Calling’, a series of 4 events, 4 consecutive Fridays, from 6 to 9pm, in Fountain Alley, downtown San Jose.

With artists Corinne Takara and Lauren Cage. Corinne Takara created wearables (gloves and harnesses) and Lauren Cage proposed to the visitors to create a self-illuminated shadow puppet with an LED. AYA (Alliance for Youth Achievement) Youth Leaders help and were responsible for a shadow puppet making activity, and activating the large stage when there were less visitors.

This project is made possible with a grant from the California Arts Council.

Material: large shadow theatre with LED lights, 2 small shadow theatre, LED lights, coin cell batteries, skewers, cardboard, black paper.

Alliance for Youth Achievement website page for the event here.


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