Current Project in Process


We are visual creatures. But underwater, visibility falls off dramatically  so the kinds of visual observations that biologists use to study terrestrial ecosystems is not practical. Studying what is happening under the ocean requires a different approach. Ocean Acoustics uses sound to listen in to whatís happening and collect data that illuminates life in the ocean. Land ecologists study landscape, geology and weather.  Ocean acousticians talk about soundscapes. A soundscape is just like a landscape: itís a picture of whatís happening in the ocean environment using sound instead of images to describe the ecosystem. Scientists collect sounds from biologic life, humans sound (shipping) and abiotic sounds: wind waves, ice and currents.

In June, 2018 I was invited to participate in a research project using ocean acoustics to understand life in the sea. By participating in the science aboard the RV Endeavor, I was inspired to create art that will help others understand the information researchers are discovering by listening in to the ocean soundscape.  My time aboard the ship was spent participating in science, learning the basics of ocean acoustics and learning how the field of ocean acoustic is assessing biologic, human and abiotic sound in the Outer Continental Shelf area of the Atlantic Ocean.

Project Advisers

Dr. Jennifer Miksis-Olds - Research Professor, School of Marine Science and Engineering, 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.



Work in Progress on the Active Acoustics piece. Daily zooplankton migration
Start on expressing the eco-sounder

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.


Active Acoustics - Work in progress                       

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.

     Testing stitches and threads for clarity of expression.  The equations need to be read and recognized.            That circle at the top is my stand in for the transducer. It both sends and receives sound waves.           Active acoustic equations readied for expressing sonar pings and back scatter




Zooplankton Migration- Work in Progress

zooplankton migration across five panels          Detail of zooplankton migration          detail

At dawn and dusk every day, our planets' largest migration occurs in the top 200 meters of the ocean. Zooplankton, who have hidden from predators in the gloomy, lower layers of the water column, migrate to the surface of the ocean at dusk to feed under cover of darkness. At dawn, they scoot back down to  safety deeper in the water column. Active Acoustics uses sound to "see" into the water column to track these diverse and beautiful creatures. I've embroidered the grand migration with embroidery stitches, beading and hundreds of (intentionally) sloppy french knots. I LOVED embroidering this daily procession of survival.


 Passive Acoustics, Work in Progress


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.



 Artistic Inspiration

    Magnificent book about the Mayan relationship to water, ritual and cosmology        Late Classic Maya
A.D 650/800
Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago used with permission
For the Maya, water was not just a life sustaining substance. Water provided the medium through which they connected with the cosmos, the earth, and their deities. Water shaped their entire world view. The potent symbolism and powerful visions of the elite artists of the Classical Period inspire and inform the work of this project. You can see the remarkable art of this culture  in the Art Institute of Chicago's Galleries of African Art and Indian Art of The Americas.

  Detail of "Like The Grass"      "Morning Song"
1975    Lissy Funk created numerous tiny samples to test her embroidery ideas. 

The work of Swiss textile artist and embroider, Lissy Funk provided inspiration for this project. Her tapestry sized embroideries were boldly modern and powerfully executed. For more information visit the Art Institute of Chicago Textile Departments' on line resource  for more information about this remarkable artist's work. 

 Science  At Sea

        Working on the aft deck in an approaching storm
 All photos courtesy of the ADEON project

Night crew hard at work   The R.V. Endeavor at dock   Safety drill

Charismatic mega fauna keeping us company          The wet lab         State room on the R.V. Endeavor

Here is a beautiful description of life at sea written by NOAA Journey Into Midnight crew member, Sonke Johnsen.