Internal Tides

I was intrigued by the idea of bodies of water flowing over and under one another, much like how we move and flow around one another, whether in interpersonal relationships or among the varied non-human entities that make up the complex web of life on earth. Following this thread, I was reading about the various densities of ocean water, when I was struck by this quote: “[g]ravity waves in the ocean’s interior are as common as waves at the sea surface-perhaps even more so, for no one has ever reported an interior calm” (emphasis added)[1]. The synchronicity of this expression – so clearly referring to the physics of water – but so relatable to the state of an individual’s emotional life hit me with such force that I knew I wanted to make a piece of work that spoke to this connection. That is, to make an artwork that explored the physics of water, but served as a metaphor for how our humanness is interconnected and enmeshed in the web of life. The concept of a tideline seemed a perfect place to anchor this work: a place where forces meet, where detritus gathers, where heavier water (that with a greater density) is essentially subducted beneath lighter water – a place of convergence.

My goal was to make images of various states of ocean water. Water is both a literal medium for the work, and also a metaphor for the complexity of human’s relationships with other entities. Water is a seemingly simple thing: a transparent fluid formed from two hydrogen atoms paired up with an oxygen atom, but in the form of the ocean, it acquires both a gravity and a presence. It has its own ecosystems, layers, and movements. The ocean is another world, but it made up of individual molecules of water flowing around one another, constantly dynamic and changing.

Research on ocean and tidal physics inspires my concept, while my ongoing practice of experimental lens-less photography informs my method of making the work. Placing light-sensitive paper in a tray filled with collected ocean water and exposing it to a light source while keeping it in motion, I am able to capture the intricacy of ocean water’s movements. The pieces are integrated together to form a whole that implies both convergence and fluidity.