When I recently saw a ficus leaf mineral thru an electron microscope on pinterest, it reminded me of this piece from about 15 years ago. When I made it, I’d never seen a ficus leaf mineral, but I love how interrelated so many forms and patterns of nature appear to be, whether you’ve ever seen them to influence you or not.
Catching Glimpses in the Gloaming, 1998. Crocheted copper wire, cast silver dogwood blossoms, fake eyelashes, fake fur, steel wire. Photo Courtney Frisse
“I can’t even look at it,” ran through my head whenever I would see the little pin it icon. “Pinterest is going to distract me from important things.”
But now I’m coalescing Nature Patterns onto a digital board that kind of tweaks the in-love chemistry in my brain. Pinning before bed has catalyzed beautiful, vivid dreams; something about the free associative process of following this intricate thread of visual networks is soothing while stimulating creativity. To be able to float through images, seeing some things I never knew existed in the world, is like cranking the amperage on curiosity and getting a fascination fix.
Every time I pin onto this board, I’m adding inspirational matter for future Living Sea Sculptures. As I gravitate towards images, I see a collage emerging; it’s a valuable personal palette made from the communal well of web surfing and discovery. Microscopic bacteria, bike chains, textiles, lava flows, and biology on land and sea reflect and imitate each other as they assemble into rivulets, orbs, bumps and repetitions. Physical forces, changing pressure and process has resulted in these…these moments captured in photographs and stills. Somehow there is motion and color telling a story, a lifelong history embedded in the pictures, and that wordless-ness attracts and suggests new models for ocean habitat.
DNA Sculpture at Puerto Cancun. photo by mikegerz.com, copyright 2011
Small or large, simple or complex, sculptures and forms can be any shape or size…each one becoming a unique living being, like you. Each one will grow with less human control than many artists or architects would like. Some will bulge just where you wanted them to turn in, or will be settled by a coral variety that clashes in color with an adjacent species. The unexpected and predictable wayward ways of biology and ecology are what make this work a true collaboration with nature. It could be pruned and controlled, maybe it will need some interaction, but I like watching what the organisms do.
Coral Skirt. Pemuteran, Bali 2009
Coral Skirt, 5 months growth. photo by Rani E. Morrow-Wuigk copyright 2010
I have said that if we can build a super highway, we can build a super reef. And turns out, Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau were planning such a feat to surround Ihuru in the Maldives to protect it from being pummeled and reclaimed by the lapping rising sea. Below is an example of an extended reef they installed along the coast of Helen Island (notice the dark band parallel to shore). I believe they used solar to power it. The structure is 150 feet (50m) long, 3 feet (1m) tall, 15 feet (5m wide).
The beach grew by 50 feet (15 m) seaward over 150 feet (50 m) of shore in 2 years.
Helen Island Biorock Reef structure
Apparently the water used to come right up to the palm trees and resort before the installation. You can see how much sand there is now, all because the waves are slowed as they flow through the artificial reef structures that act as permeable breakwaters. Natural coral reefs are permeable, too, since corals need current to flow through them to get their nutrients. Sadly, the plan to create “the necklace” to encircle the island was never implemented, so sand bags and dredging continue as main attempts to stave off waves; neither helps bio-diversity or has any real chance of forwarding life-supporting innovation.
Installation of the artificial reef. photo by Caspar Henderson or Wolf Hilbertz
This photo shows the simple arches that grew limestone and corals to protect the shores of Helen Island.
Coral restoration is an act where practical meets beautiful meets resourceful meets viable meets doable meets valuable.
I wonder what this form will attract? It’s an extrovert in need of its introverted partner.
"Extrovert" model in progress
"Extrovert" small model in progress
Looks taller this way
Perforated stainless represents where mild steel expanded metal mesh (EMM) will go. The EMM should fill in faster with minerals creating visual interest and a denser substrate for organisms to attach to and colonize.
"Extrovert" - small model inspired by relaxed surface algorithm, 2012.
As we enter 2013, I want to say a positive word for the coral refuge in Cancun. During the year and half of waiting to install this piece,
DNA under a tarp at the deployment yard. The mesh is example of EMM. photo March 2012
I have learned alot about maintaining enthusiasm while gaining some reality checks about bureaucracy. Being able to participate in the creation of living art for an underwater museum and a national marine park is exciting and challenging. Patience is with me as I keep the vision for installation this May or June. May patience and kindness find you as 2013 flows in~~~