Ghost Reef, 2020-ongoing
3D animated collages, underwater field-recordings of North Sea reefs
3D modeling: Sacha van den Haak; Sound design: Sébastien Robert; Project partners: Wageningen Marine Research, Dutch Maritime Productions and Stichting Duik de Noordzee Schoon
Courtesy the artist and Embassy of the North Sea
Originally commissioned by Embassy of the North Sea, MU Hybrid Art House, and Re-Nature Festival
Presentation at the 23rd Biennale of Sydney is made possible with generous assistance from Mondriaan Fund and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia
The Embassy of the North Sea is a collective founded in the Hague in 2018. Working from the fundamental belief that the sea owns itself, through imaginative projects and initiatives grounded in paying deep attention to the voices of plants, animals, microbes and people connected to the sea, The group advocates for the very real political representation of our oceans and the more-than-human lives they support in the human world.
Ghost Reef (2020-ongoing) is a projection and sound installation that seeks to give representation to the North Sea, located off the Eastern Coast of Great Britain. Though large pockets of this mass of water are biodiversity hotspots that play an immense role in the ongoing resilience of even larger ecosystems, they are barely present in the public’s imagination, and accordingly not protected. Within this installation, each of the animated video collages projected onto the metal screens are based on scarce footage taken by divers, while the sounds are field recordings taken from what the collective call ‘anthropogenic substrates’, man-made structures – often wreckages – plotted throughout the sea which act as reefs for a plethora of lie forms.
Ghost Reef seeks to give artistic representation to these reef patches of the North Sea, to give a more truthful sense of the feel of these places, rather than the narrower, data-driven representations often employed in the scientific realm. Stitched together, these fragments of sight and sound combine to give a full vision of the biodiversity of the North Sea.
The project is a continuation of research into listening to the North Sea and exploring its human and more-than-human entanglements. Coral reefs are complete ecosystems with multispecies identities, expressed through their unique soundscapes and increadible variation in shapes, colors and textures. This project demonstrates that cold water coral reefs are no different than tropical reefs, and thus deserve the same (much needed) recognition, appreciation and protection.
– Xandra van der Eijk, The Embassy of the North Sea