octopus

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Art Illustration Science

Clusters of Marine Life Rendered by Zoe Keller Illuminate the Incredible Biodiversity of the Ocean

April 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Octopodes.” All images © Zoe Keller, shared with permission

From her studio in South Portland, Maine, Zoe Keller (previously) continues to work at the intersection of art and science with her ongoing Ocean Biodiversity Print Series. The digital illustrations are evidence of Keller’s meticulous technique and attention to anatomical detail, and each piece highlights a vast array of marine life, with dozens of species of octopuses, jellyfish, and other sea creatures congregating in dense crowds—she also pairs every work with a key to easily identify each specimen.

Made in collaboration with PangeaSeed Foundation, a nonprofit working toward ocean conservation through art, the series is the result of in-depth research, Keller says, and she often references organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Schmidt Ocean Institute to focus on the species most at risk. She explains:

Something that is definitely challenging about tackling marine subjects is that we simply do not understand ocean life as intimately as life on land. With this series, I take as much information as I can, and combine it with a bit of artistic license, to—hopefully!—inspire wonder for all of the incredible species living beneath Earth’s waves.

Keller’s most recent addition to the series is “Deep Sea,” and there are still a few of those prints available in the PangeaSeed shop. The next release is slated for fall, so keep an eye on her Instagram for updates. You can also see the artist’s work in person this June at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and in September at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, New York.

 

“Medusozoa”

Detail of “Deep Sea”

“Syngnathidae”

Detail of “Medusozoa”

Detail of “Syngnathidae”

“Deep Sea”

Detail of “Octopodes”

 

 



Craft

Sinuous Tentacles and Intricate Spider Legs Sprout from Glass Symphony’s Miniature Creatures

March 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Glass Symphony, shared with permission

Kyiv-based artist Nikita Drachuk (previously) is behind a delicate menagerie of translucent octopuses, striped spiders, and mottled slugs exquisitely crafted in glass. Elaborately shaped with curling tentacles and segmented legs, the miniature creatures are the product of lampworking, which involves melting the colorful material with a lamp or torch. Drachuk works under the moniker Glass Symphony and has hundreds of pieces available on Etsy.

 

 

 



Art Craft

Knit Coral Suits and Vibrant Marine Creatures Spring From Mulyana’s Whimsical Yarn-Based Ecosystems

January 26, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mulyana, courtesy of Sapar Contemporary, shared with permission

In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling.

Mulyana puts a fantastic twist on the natural lifeforms, especially when crafting his signature Mogus character: most recently, the reimagined octopus is outfitted with a mustache in leopard print, innumerable eyes all over its body, and polka-dotted horns. Lighthearted in presentation, the works are rooted in more urgent issues like the effects of the climate crisis, isolation, and how we collectively configure identities that are always evolving. A statement about Fragile Ecologies says:

On a macro level, Mulyana’s profound concern for the eroding environment and our collective lack of care for the natural world parallels the importance of self-care on a micro level. His message encourages a holistic path to self-preservation amidst a chaotic and uncertain post-pandemic world. While Mulyana does not overtly reference gender and sexuality in his intricate installations, the diversity of his colorful environments and spectacular costumes allude to the fluidity of human identity.

For more of Mulyana’s underwater knits and costumes, head to his site and Instagram.

 

A person wearing a knit costume evoking sea creatures by artist Mulyana.

 

 



Photography Science

Footage from a Blackwater Dive Off the Coast of Italy Frames the Striking Marine Creatures Found in Its Depths

September 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

For marine biologists and photographers, a nighttime dive into the ocean offers an austere backdrop for capturing the myriad creatures that live below the surface: entirely devoid of light, black water creates a stark visual contrast to the iridescent, translucent, and tentacled organisms that float in the dark expanses, making rare sightings of cusk eels and or billowing blanket octopuses all the more striking. An expedition by Alexander Semenov (previously) near Ponza Island unveiled an array of marine life off the western coast of Italy, framing their unique forms and movements. The footage is part of an ongoing documentary project for Aquatilis, and you can see more from Semenov on his site.

 

 

 



Science

A Rare Sighting of a Glass Octopus Reveals its Nearly Transparent Membrane in Extraordinary Detail

July 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

On a 34-day expedition around the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, marine scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute captured exceptionally rare footage of the elusive glass octopus. With a speckled, iridescent membrane, the aquatic animal is almost entirely transparent—only its optic nerve, eyes, and digestive tract are visible to humans—and sightings like these are so infrequent that scientists previously resorted to studying the species only after pulling it from the stomachs of its predators.

Along with successfully capturing this footage, the research team also identified new marine organisms and recorded the sought-after whale shark swimming through the Pacific Ocean during the expedition. For similar underwater reveals, check out a blanket octopus unveiling her membrane.