Underwater At Cancun


January 31, 2011

The Silent Evolution

Of many interesting images of people interacting with an underwater art installation by Jason deCaires Taylor called “The Silent Evolution,” this one is my favorite. I love the ethereal feeling of Greenpeace, Tck, tck, tck and 350.org activists joined in a circle on the surface of the ocean high above the haunting sea floor view of a crowd of sculptures created from the faces and bodies of people of all ages and walks of life.

An otherworldly quality is conveyed by the contrast in color, clarity and texture between the forms of the sculpture on the sea floor and the swimmers on the surface of the sea. The distressed expressions of the statues in the darkness of the sea floor are balanced by the free form floating circle haloed above them. The rising bubbles and the wave-sculpted surface of the sea beneath the brilliant light of the tropical sun adds depth. A lone fish swims between the two zones, exploring the invasion of its watery world from the bottom and top of the water column.

The image came from an event staged during the second week of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP16) in Cancun. People dressed in everyday clothing dove among the 400 life-size statues of “The Silent Evolution” one of the largest underwater art attractions in the world. The contrast of people in colorful clothes and lively expressions with the heavy, fixed sculptures provoke attention to the issue of climate change and the deadly effects of sea levels rising.

Humans cannot survive underwater. Without SCUBA gear, people that dive underwater burst back to the surface gasping for air. I see the circle of swimmers on the surface of the clear sea similar to concepts of heaven in renaissance painting. If we join together, connect with each other over the environment, we can find a way to survive, to live with the massive power of the sea that surrounds and sustains the earth. If we go our own selfish way and ignore the health of the earth, we perish and sink to the bottom of the sea where we cannot move or breathe. 


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