"Circular Sounds:Passive Acoustics"
"35" x 35"
Embroidery, beading, collage on silk
We are visual creatures. But underwater, visibility falls off dramatically and the kinds of visual observations that biologists use to study terrestrial ecosystems are not practical. Studying what is happening under the ocean requires a different approach. Ocean Acoustics uses sound to listen in to what’s happening and collect data that illuminates life in the ocean. Land ecologists study landscape, geology and weather. Ocean acousticians study soundscapes. This project makes visible the invisible world of sound in the sea. I created densely embroidered silk panels that help describe what researchers are discovering. The work illustrates the largest daily migration of zooplankton, the sound-enhancing SOFAR channel, phytoplankton, the dramatic vocalizations of marine life gathered by hydrophones. I drew inspiration from the work of the Swiss embroidery artist Lissy Funk and the elite artists of Mayan classical period with their profound, symbolic connection to water.
Because of limited visibility, marine mammals and fish are highly adapted to producing and perceiving sound in the ocean. Animals rely on sound for many purposes such as navigation, maintaining social interactions, establishing dominance, attracting a mate, avoiding predators and finding food. Passive acoustics uses underwater microphones called hydrophones to collect data. The hydrophones are collecting information in all directions and record data from marine life, human sounds, and the sounds of wind, ice and waves.
In this piece, I've included references to ocean acidification, the sound enhancing SOFAR channel, representations of data from marine mammals, fish, seismic and shipping sounds. I've also included a reference to the hydrophone equipment in the center and the equation used to describe sound waves.
"Rhythmic Seas:Active Acoustics"
Five panels each 8" x 38"
Embroidery, beading, collage on silk
Active acoustics uses sound to visualize what life forms inhabit the water column. A ping of sound is aimed down from the ship and those sound waves bump into whatever life forms are in the water column and bounce back sound waves to the ship. That acoustic signature helps define the life forms found in a particular layer.
I am using equations for both active acoustics and passive acoustics to help illustrate how scientists use sound to "see " into the water column. Processing yards and yards of bias tape, I'm embroidering equations that will be arranged on the work. For example, you can see the expression of a echo-sounder ping laid out in the second photo.
The top part of the panels show the twice-daily migration of zooplankton. The center and side panels express both the echo sounder ping of energy and the van Crittert-Zernike theorem of optical coherency. Said a different way: How energy waves behave when they scatter off a target. Great visual example here.The bottom half of the panels express the relationship between phytoplankton and atmospheric oxygen (O2) .The very bottom expresses the marine "snow" that collects over millennia.
Dr. Jennifer Miksis-Olds - Research Professor, School of Marine Science and Engineering and Director of CARE , University of New Hampshire
Dr. Joseph D. Warren - Associate Professor, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stonybrook University
Dr. Derek Olson - Assistant Professor, Naval Postgraduate School
Dr. Tim Moore - Assistant Research Professor, Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory, University of New Hampshire
Dr. Richard Kirby - Independent Researcher , Film Maker and Author "Ocean Drifters: A Secret World Beneath The Waves"
Dr. Sebastian Velez -International Law Enforcement Analyst, NOAA
Special thanks to the University of New Hampshire for their support, the ADEON project for sharing data, NASA for the use of satellite images, and the Art Institute of Chicago Textile Department.