remember ocean

Karo Castro-Wunsch

live demo:



Process Journal

Sometimes I forget about the ocean, sometimes I’m thinking about things that seem more important at the time but in retrospect really weren’t really important when compared to endless water. The ocean does her own thing and takes care of herself, as far as I can tell, so she doesn’t really get up in your face too often unless you’re of the Moby dick/Tom hanks variety. So this piece is a somewhat agitated, demanding, incarnation of the ocean, trapped in the internet as per usual. The central thought is ~ don’t forget the the ocean ~ Ie remember the ocean. I put the demanding ocean next to population growth. The ocean at the whim of pop growth, becoming more agitated due to pop growth, becoming increasingly more spastic. With life coming from the sea and all, it’s probably pretty tough being the mother of all that and keeping your kelp beds in good order too. There’s the calm ocean, more sphereish and gentle, and the cartoonishly wild ocean that don’t even fit on the screen it’s having such a fit. Your job is to mind the ocean, let her know that yes, you are thinking of her, you do remember her. And that’s the role of the peripheral: a salt water detector in a shell that is activated only when you tap it with a finger dipped in salt water. The sensor is tuned to only react to salt water, regular water carrying too faint a signal. By touching salt water to the shell (a small alter of sorts) you let the ocean know that you’re thinking of her in a way that assures her also that you remember at least a small fragment of the sensation of the ocean. A drop of salt water on a finger is practically an ocean if you look close enough…? Touching the shell calms the ocean and she resumes peaceful orbliness, but she’s only calm so long as you actively attend to her, otherwise she slips steadily back into agitation. And so it goes.

I’m really glad of the meditation on ocean vs population this project allowed me, but what I’m less enthusiastic of is cats vs conductive thread.


^ It’s a knot, there were many of them. Future iterations of this project will use a wireless connection. The initial thought for the thread was to wrap the shell with it and leave gaps which could be crossed with the thread. This proved difficult as the thread holds on to too much moisture, so I re-designed using a two prong moisture detector. Also, yes, I am aware creation sells a moisture detector for $5, I thought I could make something that looked better, which was a successful negative result!


It worked very well though and was able to handle large drops of water and not become waterlogged.

On the visual technical end, learning more WebGL and shader systems is always fun. The Ocean is a deformed icosahedron that uses 3D and 4D periodic perlin noise in conjunction with vertex shader reflection to produce its wobliness.

The population api doesn’t give a second to second population update, so to get that working I took the daily pop status report and interpolated it with the avg growth of humans / second.

To deal with serial data with the water sensor there was quite a bit of tweaking in the form of scaling and averaging but the numbers still seemed to drift as I kept using the sensor, I assume it started to degrade a little. Poor Guy.


The circuit for the sensor just involves grounding the sensor wire so that it’s more constant when off, and passing the ground through a resistor so that more of the current is channeled towards the analog in. Is that how electronics works? Experimentally thought, this circuit functions.




The physical interface is a lil bowl of water and a shell. I have a good deal of remorse about not making the sensor more invisible. Ideally you just touch a bowl of water and that’s your interface. I’ve seen water bowls used as synths before but that’s a mk004 thing now.


The simple contrast of the visuals and concept make me happy.

References / Resources

Reflective Deform Shader:

World population api:

Considerations on the Ocean:

Water Sensor Inspiration:



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