STEMarts Curriculum Tool

Victoria Vesna

Noise Aquarium utilizes 3D-scans of these micro creatures obtained with unique scientific imaging techniques immersing the audience in a 3D ‘aquarium’ of diverse planktons projected as large as whales. Participants create destructive visual and audio noise by their presence alone as we are all implicated by our inaction.Current studies show the destructive power of underwater noise on large marine life with shocking examples of stranded whales and dolphins. However, almost nothing is known about the possible impact on the marvelous microscopic organisms such as the plankton, and addition of micro plastics further compromises the ecological balance.


About the artist

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is an Artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci Center at the School of the Arts (North campus) and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) (South campus). Although she was trained early on as a painter (Faculty of Fine arts, University of Belgrade, 1984), her curious mind took her on an exploratory path that resulted in work that can be defined as experimental creative research residing between disciplines and technologies.

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  • Victoria Vesna Projects (2000-2006)
    Victoria Vesna Projects (2007-2014)
    Octopus Mandala Glow: OMG!
    Noise Aquarium
    Blue Morph (2007-2013)
  • Brain Storming: LA Art Fair
    Our Collective Metamorphosis: Victoria Vesna at TEDxChelsea

skills applied

  • Scientific imaging
  • Interactive art
  • Biotechnology


My journey starts with terrible math and science teachers so early on I turned to art schools where I got absolutely zero education in science and technology. But, while growing up in NY in the 70’s, through my father’s obsession with Nikola Tesla, I was absorbing a lot of scientific concepts through osmosis. In retrospect, I think that this was the seed that kept growing inside me and attracting me to explore the deeper aspects of the natural world. Later I learned the fundamentals of working collaboratively in a group and started to play with video, sound, light and performance. But all this was happening in separate worlds until I started working with nanoscientist James Gimzewski who was the first scientist I collaborated with on an artwork where we were equally involved and truly blurred the lines of art, science and technology. In the Paseo installation, Noise Aquarium, I collaborated with biologists, chemists, nano-toxicologists and an animator all working together towards a common goal – to raise consciousness about noise pollution in our oceans. Click on the STEAM Activities below to try out some of my favorite activities such as learning how to hack your webcam into a microscope, creating cyanotypes from iPhone images or exploring plankton as inspiration for art and design.

Explore Artist Tool

The Explore Artist Tool provides a step-by-step process for getting to know the artist, to see examples of the artists work, research the science and technology that informed the work, experiment with some hands on activities and tools to better understand how the artist thinks and works, collaborate with your peers to exchange ideas on what you learned and what you liked, and finally to present something that you write or create that is inspired by your research and exploration. This tool will take you through each stage of the process with a focus on each artist's work.

Explore all artist pages

In the explore phase you go to the Explore Artists to click through each artist page and learn about them all. You can watch their videos, read their bios, and flip through their STEAM wiki for articles, science research and STEAM activities related to the artist's work. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. Look out for how any of these are used in the artists work. The goal is to learn a little about each artist and start to think about which one inspires you most or which one you would like to learn more. Your class could decide to all work together on one artist, or that everyone choose a different artist.

Research the STEAM

Once you have explored all the artists it is time to pick your favorite and go back to their page. Now you can dig deeper in the STEAM wiki to research the artist. Learn as much as you can about how the artist made the installation. Find out about the technology that was used. What is the science that informed it? How does the artist work impact communities? the environment? Why do you think this work is interesting or important? The goal here is to pick a STEAM activity. Again it could be a group project or individual project.

Time to experiment and create with hands-on activities

Now that you and your class have decided on the artist and STEAM activity it is time to start experimenting. if you are writing a report start your draft, if you are creating an art piece or installation start sketching or constructing prototypes or you may be trying out a new science experiment. This is your chance to do some hands on project to really understand the artist’s art process.

Collaborate with peers to share and get feedback

The next step is to collaborate with your peers to share your work, exchange ideas and get feedback. Perhaps you have been working on an experiment and you need some help. Maybe you are excited about something you learned or created and just would like to share with you peers. This is the time to discuss and listen to other people’s ideas and what they learned to get a different perspective. Check out the Feedback Tool for some suggestions on how to give and receive feedback constructively.

STEAM wiki

The STEAM-Wiki is a place to get started with your artist research. You will find links to articles, images, video, and tutorials that relate to Victoria's work.

You can search by clicking on the links below or you can click on the topic words in the word cloud for specific areas of interest. For example, BIONANOTECHNOLOGY to learn about the scientific research behind the work or SOUND for experiments around the sound component of the installation. If you are looking for STEM + Art activities type in STEAM Activities

Remember the resource is an open forum sharing links and ideas that others have found – always check your sources and give credit where credit is due. The open source movement generously shares its knowledge and relies on user feedback – so if there’s something really good or doesn’t work let others know.


Next Generation Science Standards

Core Idea ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

ESS3.A: Natural Resources
ESS3.B: Natural Hazards
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
ESS3.D: Global Climate Change

Other Artists

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Projecting Particles Collective
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Reilly Donovan
Parker Jennings
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