I welcome you to a submerged space, where you join microscopic phytoplankton and micro-animals in floating as interspecies organisms. They are related to each other and to us, through the interdependence of ecological networks.
Underpinned by research into the evolution of biological organisms, my work encourages a shift of perspective to imagine another organism’s relationships with local biota. This is a shift away from a human-centred perspective. The intention of the work is to bring awareness of our co-agency with other organisms. We are not the only actor – all organisms around us have agency too.
By amplifying the fine corporeal structures of microscopic phytoplankton and micro-animals to human scale, they become beings we can see, admire and relate to. Yet it is their absence that is implied in their material trace. Represented as absent bodies or the negative space of fossils, they remind us of our ephemerality.
Phytoplankton are in mutualistic symbiosis with corals. Humans are dependent on these microscopic plankton as they create half the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. However, if we only see our dependency on them and not their mutual interdependence with us, we are asleep to the living energies of other beings and we sabotage our own survival. There is a lot to learn from indigenous cultures and their ways of seeing and respecting all living things. We are en route to a remembered ethics of care.
I created the sculptures in Forton MG, a non-toxic, polymer-based gypsum, similar to phytoplankton in its constituency of calcium, as in coccolithophores, and the formation of crystals, as in diatoms. As micro-animals are often transparent and are known to inadvertently consume ocean borne microplastics, I created them in a thermoplastic substance. Phytoplankton skins are cast in pure rubber, the sap of their land-based sister photosythesisers.
Thanks to Trevor Brown for sound compositions based on an underwater recording by Fonoteca de Canarias, Canary Islands, December 15th, 2013, downloaded from Freesound.org.