Louise Mackenzie - Stars Beneath Our Feet


Stars Beneath Our Feet (2015)
Single channel video and audio installation
Louise Mackenzie

Originally commissioned by Artichoke for Lumiere Durham 2015, Stars Beneath Our Feet takes as its source material the micro-algae Dunaliella salina.  The work forms part of the artist’s wider research on the agency of the organism within art practice.

Video footage of Dunaliella salina is captured using Dark Field and Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) Microscopy.  Data taken from movements made by the organisms under an Atomic Force Microscope (ATM) is audified to create the soundtrack. The resulting audio-visual installation attempts to construct an embodied understanding of the organism, one that encompasses their being in the world without consideration of their use as resources.  

Invisible to the naked eye, micro-algae were among the Earth’s first oxygen-producing organisms, creating the conditions that enabled the development of life on Earth.  Today, scientists develop micro-organisms as a sustainable source of food and fuel.  Some are cultivated by NASA for use on long-term space missions.  They are also prized in industry for their ability to produce pigment and are used commercially as health supplements.  It is thought that if life exists beyond this world it is likely to be microbial.  


Louise Mackenzie is a UK based artist creating installation, sculpture, performance, sound and film works.  With a focus on living material, she is interested in the relationships between medium, sound, image and text, attempting to find ways in which these can be connected to produce unexpected results.

Louise received the New Graduate Award at Synthesis, Manchester Science Festival, 2013 and was shortlisted for the Bio Art & Design Awards, 2015 in The Netherlands.  She is currently recipient of post-graduate research funding from BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art, a Northumbria University and BALTIC partnership.