Slumbering Ooze

Chrome-textured blob with a mouth and eyes slowly rolling off a ledge.

Shanghai’s heat and humidity during the summer months make it an ideal environment for mobile algae colonies, the novel pairing of several species of chlorella and microscopic alginate processors. These gel-like creatures are sheathed in a glimmering holographic surface which projects colorful, writhing images. These patterns can attain striking levels of complexity and mimicry, being fully three-dimensional representations formed by the cooperation of millions of algal photoreflectors. The colonies use their patterning for camouflage, self-defense, inter-colony communication, and, some believe, to express a certain primordial whimsy.

On more humid days, they awaken and emerge in abundance from sewer grates and drainage pipes to spread themselves across damp surfaces to drink condensation. While often amusing, most consider them a general nuisance, silently sliding underfoot to cause frequently harmful falls. Having slipped on shimmering algae, one is said to have “kicked the sky”.

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