Art With Purpose: Underwater Edition

It’s environmental evolution, art intervention as growth, or a balancing of relationships“- Jason deCaires Taylor

Last month I wrote about art as catalyst for positive environmental change. I wrote about WENDY, a sculpture that actively cleans the air. This month I’m going to highlight the works of Jason deCaires Taylor, an artist who uses underwater sculpture to improve underwater biodiversity by creating new habitats for threatened underwater sea life.

Jason deCaires Taylor is an award winning underwater photographer and eco sculptor who’s work is both awe-striking and contemplative. Taylor received a BA in Sculpture in 1998 from the London Institute of Arts and is also a certified diving instructor.  Taylor created his first underwater sculpture garden in 2006. Only 10-15% of the sea bed has strong enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally. By “sinking” PH neutral sculptures, Taylor creates an artificial reef which attracts coral, fish, and crustaceans. Taylor hopes tourism to his reefs will reduce pressure from natural coral reefs, which are dying at an alarming rate.

One of Taylor’s newest pieces,  “The Listener”, is planned to literally act as a “ear” to  the under sea life, testing that whether Taylor’s sculpture is a legit conservation tool. “The Listener” is a humanoid sculpture composed of ear castings and rigged with a hydrophone. The recordings will be reviewed by Heather Spence, a marine biologist and PHd Candidate at Hunter College, to determine whether the sculptures are beneficial or disruptive.

Jason deCaires Taylor documents his sculpture by periodically diving and photographing their changes in growth. The images are beautifully haunting(and sometimes a little creepy). As time passes the sculptures in the picture start to look like lost treasure from a sunken ship. My favorite of Taylor’s images is of “Phoenix”,  a sculpture of a woman arching backwards with coral “wings” sprouting from her sides (see right).

Taylor’s underwater sculptures are innovative in both the visual and environmental sense.  By marrying his love of sculpture to his love of ocean life Taylor has, like the coral on his sculptures, transformed art. I suggest anyone with a few spare minutes on their hands check out his photo galleries on underwatersculpture.com.


All photos in this article were taken by Jason deCaires Taylor and were found at underwatersculpture.com

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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