The environmental damage to our planet, wreaked by destructive industrial activities and excessive consumerism, has given rise to a new form of artistic expression that has taken the form of activism. This art, while retaining its aesthetics, is aimed to bring awareness about the environmental havoc being created around the globe. The torchbearers of this artistic movement are the Land Artists, who draw attention to environmental causes through their art.
One such artist is Jason deCaires Taylor, who has taken his art into the depths of the ocean, giving rise to the unique underwater art. Through his art, he focuses on the degradation of the marine environment, such as rising sea temperatures, bleaching of coral reefs, changes in acidic levels of seawater, pollution of oceans by chemicals that are killing key species, and overfishing that results in the destruction of marine habitats.
Taylor’s artwork essentially consists of giant installations both under and over water that has a message for mankind. His sculptural installations are installed at various locations around the globe.
For his artwork, Taylor uses non-toxic, pH neutral marine-grade cement that is free from harmful pollutants. The materials used easily gel with the local ecosystem. What’s more, the rough texture of the cement used allows coral larvae to attach and propagate, while the nooks and crannies left in the folds of clothing provide a safe haven for fishes and crustaceans. He times installing his artworks just before the larval coral spawning to make it easy for coral larvae and other marine creatures to colonize.
Taylor also places his installations away from existing reefs and in locations with barren sandbanks. This not only boosts diversity but also saves the fragile ecosystem of existing corals from tourists. To maximize the impact of his sculptural reefs, the artist consults with marine scientists before installing. This enables scientists to study and monitor the marine ecosystem being created.
In addition to the above, Taylor’s sculpture parks also have a positive financial impact. The entry fee to the park funds marine conservation efforts and coastal patrols that protect the marine ecosystem. It also generates employment by offering opportunities to local fishermen to become museum guides for tourists to show underwater galleries, either from glass-bottomed boats or by means of deep-sea diving or snorkeling.
Taylor’s unique underwater museums offer a unique experience to visitors and at the same time educates them about the importance of preserving the flora and fauna of the oceans.
Jason deCaires Taylor