Choral (2019)

single channel 16K (15360*2160px) panoramic 3D animation, stereo 2-channel audio; looping installation or single screening, 12 minutes

Commissioned by 150 Media Stream and custom configured for their 89 LED panel display wall at 150 N Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL, USA [2 minute trailer] The work was featured for a two-month exhibition run from 5 August to 29 September 2019.

Here is an archived version of their interview with us about the project.

localStyle's installation Choral regards coral reefs as the 'voice' of the Anthropocene, hence the title (and the soundtrack's otherworldly electronic choir). Although our computerized 3D visualization of various corals is initially grounded in scientific research, some of their behavior reflects our imagination via speculative underwater world-building. The habitats that corals create are fundamental to the sustainability of a quarter of all marine species, but these ecosystems are in crisis. Despite major challenges, there are possibilities for fostering coral regeneration and recovery, and reason thus for guarded optimism. Choral is our artistic contribution to a larger-scale human response.

We have co-authored a forthcoming book chapter (2020) with photographic documentation and production details about our preparatory research and working process for Choral in "Arts, Design, and Technology" (Springer) edited by Rae Earnshaw, Susan Liggett, Peter Excell, and Daniel Thalmann.


Marlena Novak: producer and director, 3D visual artist, project manager; 3D modeling and animation, motion graphics conceptual development, main concept developer & research

Jay Alan Yim: co-producer and composer/sound designer; main concept development & research

Mak Hepler-Gonzalez: assistant producer and 3D artist; 3D modeling, polyp animation, rendering manager, 2D and 3D post-production

Nathaniel Gillette: motion graphics coordinator; 3D and 2D artist

Malu Ayers: 3D artist, concept contributor

Snow Xu: project intern; 3D artist

Max Crider: close-up polyp rigging

Sally Jo: preproduction conceptual contributor

Emily Kuehn: very special thanks for technical assistance!

Funding support from the Illinois Arts Council (Individual Artists Grant) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Faculty Enrichment Grant)

We wish to express our deep thanks to Luisa Marcelino and Timothy Swain of Marcelino's Group at Northwestern University. Their multilayered research into how and why different corals have different responses to the stresses that can cause bleaching, and their personal generosity in directing us towards a curated selection from the plethora of extant scientific literature was tremendously informative and helped us gain a better perspective from which we could develop our own project. They were also instrumental in fostering our contact with staff members at the Shedd Aquarium, whose expertise and commitment to understanding and preserving the biosphere that covers 71% of our planet is truly inspirational. Anybody who wants to experience the magical beauty of corals firsthand should see them in person at the Shedd's Wild Reef exhibit.