The Rising Waters II Confab residency acted as a unique think tank for responding to the effects of climate change worldwide, especially on coastal areas and islands, which are threatened by a 3 to 6-foot sea level rise by the year 2100. The residency served as a microcosm of varying perspectives on how to approach climate change and the anthropocene, even amongst an incredible group of artists, thinkers, and scientists who agree that climate change is real and caused by human industrialization.
The relationship I formed with Captiva Island, the Gulf of Mexico, and Pine Island sound, from the micro-scale up influenced me deeply. In conjunction with that direct experience, the knowledge about local ecosystems and history of storm response that local experts and residents shared guided me and enriched my understanding.
For example we learned that we must watch and follow the barnacles on pilings as an indicator of how the water level is changing. Although many of these sites will need to be abandoned as the waters rise, based on what I learned at the Rising Waters Confab, I believe that many of our solutions lay in the resilience and fragility of ecosystems such as the mangrove and coral.
I spent a great deal of time examining the micro-ecologies of the islands under a webcamera microscope, and found the water and soil around the mangroves to be especially rich in life. These examinations became part of an interactive media installation ‘Becoming Mangrove,’ which emphasizes the resilience of the mangrove ecosystems in the face of rising water and storm surges. In the artwork, participants VJ the found digital microscope footage by connecting to mangrove buds and conductive prints.