BEHOLD THE OCEAN
6th of June 2022 – 08:19, 53°57′2′′ S 71°40′58′′ W
I am on a small ship in the Chilean Antarctic region on the way to Cape Horn. We are underway for about two weeks. There is no internet, and hot water only every so often. We are thirteen people, almost all men, sharing a small room. Somehow there is enough space – but we can’t avoid each other either. The days are long and also short in the middle of winter. From Punta Arenas to the southernmost point of the Americas and back, we need 2000 liters of diesel. It could be scarce if something happens. A few days later, the captain gets a call: the Beagle Channel is closed, six-meter high waves; we are not allowed to go back because we would not make it: our boat would not withstand the weather; we would probably drown.
In December 2020, during the global pandemic, I accompanied a small group of Chilean ocean scientists on a marine expedition to the Southernmost of Patagonia. The focus of the research was the phenomenon of ocean acidification and its impact on the marine ecosystem. A second expedition took place in June 2022: from Punta Arenas across the Strait of Magellan, along the Cordillera de Darwin to the Yendegaia Pyramids, and to Bahía Wulaia. The second expedition was partially financed through NFTs from the first expedition, which I sold in the attempt to form the first case study about decentralized funding of scientific research through artistic production with the goal to create a self-sufficient cycle between arts and science and accelerated open access publishing of research. While the project led to speaking engagements at NFT conferences in New York City and Lisbon, as well as broader exposure within the cryptoart movement, the study itself could not be completed due to abuse of trust and power: The production of knowledge is an innately human experience, marked by flaws, and sacrifice.
Photographed on medium-format-film at 53°52′19″ S 71°24′43″ W.
After the developed film came out damaged, the overheated film scanner had issues generating a realistic preview of the image. Realistic? I found the colors to poetic, and knew they would never appear again, so I took a screenshot of the scanner preview and transferred it onto a color film negative to enlarge it in the darkroom. This diptych is one of the core pieces of Behold The Ocean. The color darkroom is my home. Everything I do is being worked through that place. The interdependencies of dark and light, positive and negative, control and surrender, are at the core of what moves me in my artistic practice and beyond. Salmon and Teal II is the inverted counterpart to Salmon and Teal I.
I transferred the screenshot and the inverted screenshot of this duo back onto color negative film in order to print it in large scale.
2022, three-channel video installation, no sound, 6 min 25 sec (excerpt)
Exhibition view Behold The Ocean at Centre de la Photographie Genève in Geneva, Switzerland. Edition 1 acquired by Art Vontobel in 2023.
Photographed by Annik Wetter