Seeing Oceans: How Artistic Research Contributes to New Ways of Looking at Ocean Life

Mooshammer, Helge and Mörtenböck, Peter, eds. 2025. Seeing Oceans: How Artistic Research Contributes to New Ways of Looking at Ocean Life, Ocean and Society, 2(1). [Edited Journal] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

The task of mapping and representing oceans and their transformations is at the heart of ocean research. Not least because Western mythology has framed oceans, and ocean life, as a trope of the unseeable, hence unknowable, for a long time. The currently changing ways of looking at oceans coincide with a rise in artistic research that has gained significant traction over the last two decades. An indication of this is the development of numerous new PhD programmes in artistic research around the world, sometimes offered jointly by art universities and social sciences or humanities universities.

Since the seminal work of Solid Sea by the group Multiplicity about the routes of tourists, migrants, seamen, and others that cross but don’t touch, shown at Documenta 11 in Kassel in 2002, there has been a steady growth of artistic research seeking to visualise the complexities of life in, on, and around oceans. The significance of this development can be seen, amongst others, in the initiation of Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project between Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, which developed out of Forensic Architecture, the human rights-oriented research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, or the founding of Ocean Space, established and led by TBA21–Academy, which runs a high-profile exhibition programme in Venice dedicated to creating a collaborative platform for ocean imagination and ocean action, and presenting works such as the multi-screen installation Oceans in Transformation by Territorial Agency, that synthesised three years of intersectional research.

This thematic issue aims to chart what new perspectives artistic research can contribute to the discourse on oceans and society by tracking the breadth and scope of key works and practices in this field and highlighting potential new avenues opened up by emerging research.

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Edited Journal

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Visual Cultures



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Date Deposited:

07 May 2024 12:20

Last Modified:

07 May 2024 12:20


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