We Will Be Here After You Are Gone
Installation: recycled HDPE plastic; thread.
Marie Louise Williams B.A. Hons Fine Art
“It is only through an awareness of the direction in which we are heading that outmoded mindsets will change”
- James Bruges “The Little Earth Book”
The idea for this piece came from the material itself. Firstly, its physical qualities reminded me of the translucent nature of Jellyfish. Secondly, discovering that HDPE plastic is made from Petroleum which is made from sea creatures or ‘zooplankton’ which fell to the floor of the ocean millions of year ago - some of which would have been Jellyfish! This gives a cyclical nature to re-using this material.
When we reuse and recycle, we are not saving the planet.
Our planet will be fine.
The richness, beauty and diversity of all the wondrous life that it currently sustains - including the human race - may not.
We are saving ourselves.
Jellyfish are simple creatures, yet in the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, the ancestors of Jellyfish ruled the seas. They have survived the many mass extinctions that have, in varying degrees, destroyed up to 94% of life on our planet. If we continue to over-fish, if the ice-caps continue to melt, the ecological niche they have evolved to inhabit may allow them to dominate again.
We are complex creatures, yet we may end up being the cause of our own destruction.
Luckily we are highly adaptable.
We are beings with self-reflective capabilities.
We have time aware consciousness and the capacity to determine our own fate, as well as that of others.
Let’s do it well.
Let’s begin now by creating a different end in mind...
Corals and hope...
Like jellyfish, corals are part of the group of animals called Cnidarians.
The reefs they form are vital to the health and biodiversity of our oceans - they cover less than 1% of the earth’s surface yet support more than 25% of marine life.
Like us, their survival is under threat. Unlike jellyfish, it may take coral reefs many millions of years to recover from the impacts of predicted climate change, ocean acidification, mismanaged land farming practices and sea-level rises.
However, their very sensitivity to environmental factors may prove their saving grace. Like us they are good at communication which may enhance their chances of survival.
They have the capacity to convey local signals quicky across entire colonies thanks to the clonal nature of their growth and through colony-wide fluid conducting systems.
In essence they have a built in social network which allows them to acclimate - but this could be overwhelmed by the rate and magnitude of climate change.
My hope is that our current human global social networks will allow us to continue to inspire and activate radical changes in our attitude and behaviour towards the earth’s living systems.
The beautiful deep sea Gorgonian Fan Coral has particular potential to enable us to plan our future strategies. Due to it’s long lifespan of several centuries, it stores information in its growth structure which can give climatologists and fisheries managers access to extended records of surface productivity and deep ocean temperature and chemistry.
Let’s let the long view determine our current actions.
“To cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and all life on the planet we share”
- The Dalai Lama