The making of Rotifers

by nicolebanowetz

I proposed the rotifer installation for the Amsterdam Light festival for their Illuminade walking route with the theme of Biomimicry.

img_2108Model of Rotifers project.

rotifers222Inspirational rotifer illustration.

img_0020Scale drawing on Acadamy building.


img_0704Testing lights in the studio.

synchaeta-hyperborea-smirnov-1932Inspirational illustration

img_1271Working in the studio in Amsterdam to attach the forms together and add lights.

Creatures circle my sewing machine.

The Story of the Amsterdam Rotifers.


The rotifer is a tiny animal that lives in small bodies of water.  It has the bizarre and amazing ability to survive attacks from preditory fungus by drying up and floating away on the wind.  When it does this it can also shatter it’s own DNA and pick up the DNA from the world around it. A trio of rotifers lays on the ground, collapsed.  Suddenly their lights flash wildly and then they fall dark.  The viewer experiences vulnerability and collapse with the creature.  But from their darkness emerges a new series of rotifers.


These rotifers form a chain, flying up the building.  As they fly they morph and change with their surroundings, excaping into the night.


Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute defines biomimicry as the “emulation of life’s genius”  The rotifer literally incorporates the genes of their surroundings into their DNA sequence.


There is a clear link between this work and real rotifers”, reflects Amsterdam Light Festival juror Lydia Fraaije on the work and its relation to this year’s theme: biomimicry. “They move just like real rotifers and by doing so, they manifest their cycle. Cycles also present  in nature. It’s good that we’re made aware of the fact that what we do is not linear, but rather part of a larger system, which sometimes seems to be based on arbitrariness.”

That rotifers spread their DNA is amazing. They also gather DNA from their surroundings. To me, the fact that they use DNA as an information carrier a beautiful analogy! Especially in a contemporary society like ours, where access to information is more ubiquitous than ever. Also, the idea that the piece focuses on a microscopic level and makes us experience even more nature than what we already see is noteworthy.” said Lydia.

img_3757View of rotifers from across the canal.

rotiferdrawingThe very first rotifer drawing I made.