In December 2015, I set out on the Research Vessel Falkor as the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s first artist-at-sea resident. This involved creating work and participating in research during a two week voyage across the Pacific, from Guam to Hawaii.
The artist-at-sea residency was designed to promote collaboration between scientists conducting research with SOI, and the resident artist. Working with David Fries, the Director of the Marine Ecosystems Technology Group at USF, I measured and created work about ocean pH levels, salinity and acidification. Studying these forces is significant because rising levels of ocean acidification and deoxygenation can create toxic conditions with the potential to threaten half of the oxygen on earth (phytoplankton), and the global food supply.
To invoke these invisible forces, I immersed exposed film directly in seawater. This process allowed chance operations and analogue methods to play a role and provided a visual record of chemical reactions to ocean pH, salinity levels, microorganisms, and, potentially, a variety of toxins and radioactive isotopes. These organic traces on film disturb the illusion of the ocean as pristine and endless resource and reveal the hidden forces becoming increasingly out of balance below the surface. Visible, liquid impressions describe these forces, and the malleable nature of memory as it changes and erodes over time.
It was crucial, conceptually, that the water I collected be as close to the exact locations depicted in the images as possible, and that the latitude, longitude, time and pH levels were recorded for each sample and roll of film. This form of analogue geo-tagging locates the images in the vastness of the ocean. I filmed with handheld super-8, to allow grain, scratches and other imperfections to add to the destabilizing effect of being at sea. This footage is screened on an analogue, looped projector to allow the physicality of the film to be fully present, in a visually flowing format. These photographs and footage combine desire with raw experience and, like memories, are equally subjective and vividly real.
All Things Marine Radio Show Interview Feb 2016:
Artists at Sea: Interview June 27, 2016:
Schmidt Ocean Institute Artist-At-Sea Blogs and Info: