System 001: An Innovative Design to Remove Plastic From the Ocean has Been Deployed off the Coast of California
Founded in 2013 by 18-year-old (at the time) inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organization that’s working to clean up our oceans by removing plastic. After five years of rigorous design and testing, the Cleanup’s cleaning apparatus, called System 001, has been deployed off the coast of California.
System 001 is a passive collection apparatus that works by moving in tandem with the ocean’s currents, taking advantage of the water’s circular movement patterns, called gyres, that cause the trash to accumulate in the first place. The Ocean Cleanup points out that 92% of the debris in the Patch is still large enough to be collected using the System’s large suspended net, and it’s critical to remove this plastic now before it degrades into microplastics that enter the food chain. Because of the net’s passive, slow-moving design, the group has reported that it has not caused animals to get caught, presumably because they have sufficient time and space to navigate away from the debris-funneling nets.
While the organization has global aspirations and an international team (the founder is Dutch), their first focus is on the massive Pacific Garbage Patch, which floats in the ocean between California and Hawaii. The Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest aquatic aggregation of trash in the world, first recognized thirty years ago. It is estimated to contain about 80,000 metric tons of garbage spanning 5.2 billion square feet (nearly a million square miles). Ocean Cleanup’s boat, the Maersk Launcher, towed the System 1,200 miles from Alameda to begin its work.
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The latest installation by ceramicist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison (previously) is Confluence (Our Changing Seas V), a porcelain coral arrangement produced for the US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. The site-specific work features a vibrant cluster of coral structures at its center which turn stark white the further they are placed from the installation’s core. This shifting gradient references the rapid devastation caused to reefs as temperature levels rise and force corals to lose their colorful algae.
This installation is a celebration of Indonesia’s coral reefs, while also pinpointing the human-caused damage that infects the vibrant systems. “Corals, anemones, sponges and other reef-dwelling invertebrates coalesce into a cyclone-like spiral with colorful healthy corals at the eye of the storm, their tentacles and branches dancing in the current,” explains Mattison. “Toward the edges and tail of the swirling constellation, corals sicken and bleach, exposing their sterile white skeletons—a specter of what could be lost from climate change. Yet at its heart the reef remains healthy, resilient and harmonious.”
Indonesia is located at the heart of what is called the “Coral Triangle” or “Amazon of the Sea.” This environment is host to more invertebrate species than can be found anywhere else on the planet, in addition to thousands of species of fish which thrive in the rich ecosystem. Mattison hopes that her handmade constructions of the Coral Triangle’s diverse specimens produces an excitement in viewers while sparking an interest to protect the delicate balance found in Indonesia’s coral systems.
Mattison is exhibiting another recent installation titled Afterglow (Our Changing Seas VI) in the group show Endangered Species: Artists on the Frontline of Biodiversity, curated by Barbara Matilsky, at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington through January 6, 2019. Mattison will travel to Bali at the end of October to unveil a 60-foot-long community-based coral installation she designed for the Coral Triangle Center in Sanur, Bali titled Semesta Terumbu Karang—Coral Universe. The work features over 2000 elements sculpted by a team of over 300 volunteers, coral reef conservationists, and Balinese artisans. You can see further conservation-based projects by Mattison on her website and Instagram.
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Reuben Wu (previously) uses long exposure techniques to capture light traces formed by a moving drone equipped with a lighting rig. In his latest group of images the paths create illuminated symbols such as a square, plus sign, and triangle from straight, narrow lines. The shapes hover just above the horizon with an abstracted reflection projected in the water below. “The project name Aeroglyph describes what I see as large temporary geometries created in the air,” Wu tells Colossal, “only visible in their entirety through the capture of a camera.”
The project is an evolution of his ongoing Lux Noctis series which focuses on specific light paths, rather than entire illuminated landscapes. “This is why I chose a wide and featureless body of water, where there are no other compositional elements other than a horizon and a textural reflection in the water,” Wu explains. The plus and minus symbols were shot over the Pacific Ocean at night, while the square and triangle were captured over the bright blue waters of Lake Michigan.
The Chicago-based photographer’s book Lux Noctis will be released this October, and is currently available for preorder through Kris Graves Projects. You can see more images from Wu on his website and Instagram.
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Japanese marine life photographer Ryo Minemizu focuses his lens on some of the tiniest and most abundant life forms in our oceans. His series Phenomenons explores the diverse beauty and extravagant colors of plankton, and is shot amongst the dark waters of the Osezaki sea near Mount Fuji and other coasts around Japan, the Philippines and Maldives. To capture the small creatures Minemizu sets his shutter speed to just a fraction of a second, while ensuring that his own movements don’t disturb the surrounding organisms.
“Plankton symbolize how precious life is by their tiny existence,” he explains. “I wanted other people to see them as they are in the sea, so it was my motivation from the beginning to shoot plankton underwater, which is quite a challenge. Most plankton are small, and their movements are hard to predict.”
His solo exhibition Jewels in the Night Sea begins a three-city tour at Canon Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo from August 20-29, 2018. It will then move to Cannon galleries in Nagoya and Osaka from September 6-12 and September 20-26, 2018. You can see more of Minemizu’s underwater photography on Instagram and Twitter. Select prints from his Phenomenons series are available in his online shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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The Coralarium is the newest aquatic sculpture by artist Jason deCaires Taylor (previously here and here). Built in a large developed coral lagoon in the Maldives, the semi-submerged installation is positioned so both human and marine visitors can interact with sculptural elements on the skyline, inter-tidal waterline, and seabed.
To reach the Coralarium, island guests traverse about 500 feet (150 meters) of shallow water, seascaped with underwater poplars and endemic corals. About 20 feet (6 meters) tall, the open-air stainless steel cube is designed based on natural coral structures and allows tidal water and marine life to pass through. Within the structure, which provides some refuge from the ocean’s currents, are several figurative sculptures that merge human, plant, and coral shapes, based on endemic species of the island and its surrounding reefs. Additional sculptures sit and stand atop the cube’s roof to unite the interior elements with the horizon.
The aquatic destination is accessible via small group tours led by marine biologists that are on staff at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort. You can see more of Taylor’s work on Facebook and Instagram, and the video below shows the creation of the Coralarium. (via Web Urbanist)
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Brave Snorkelers and Ravenous Jellyfish Steal the Spotlight in This Year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year
Winners and finalists in the 2018 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest showcased a wide range of subjects and perspectives—from a split photograph of a pair of crossed swans to a startling portrait of an unlucky fish being devoured by a luminescent jellyfish. The annual competition, held since 1965, is based in the UK and open to photographers worldwide. Judge chairman Peter Rowlands shares with Colossal that a free downloadable yearbook is available, compiling this year’s top photographs.
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