Salt Water Skin Boats: Attentiveness and Art in the Anthropocene

Additional Info

  • what-1: Salt Water Skin Boats: Attentiveness and Art in the Anthropocene
  • what-2: Lecture, Verge Conference
  • when-1: October 1, 2015
  • where-1: Music Building
  • where-2: SAMC, Trinity Western University
  • other: Langley, British Columbia

…the ocean contains the switch of life. Not land, not the atmosphere.
The ocean. And that switch can be turned off.
Alanna Mitchell

Oceans placental, but soon a new hydro of gone
Dennis Lee

My paper invites session participants to consider, from a variety of methodological vantage points, what we know about the global ocean, how it is changing and what the implications of that change are. We will consider why paying attention to the anthropocene is so important, that perhaps science and arts-based research need each other, and see visual work that uses embodiment metaphors for understanding complex global eco patterns. So long an emblem of healing and spiritual solace, what might it mean to consider that the ocean is sick?

We know oceans contain 97% of the earth’s water, produce half the oxygen in the atmosphere and regulate earth’s climate. We know life depends on water, and that global oceans are a finely tuned chemical soup that incubates life. We know humans are 70% water and require an equally finely tuned chemical balance.

We know ocean acidity and temperature are rising and salinity patterns are shifting. These rapid oceanic changes alter rainfall and storm patterns, result in floods, drought and weather disruptions. We know glaciers and icecaps are melting, and that there are patches in the ocean with no oxygen. We know plankton are the real lungs of the planet. And we know their shells and skeletons are dissolving.

We know these changes are caused by human behavior, that they started with the industrial revolution, and are ushering in a new geological epoch called the anthropocene. We know a lot about the ocean, yet we have only begun to learn of the systems’ complexity, mystery, peril and the need to pay attention.


More information about the conference may be found on Trinity Western University’s Verge Conference 2015 event page.