Over January and February 2015, Charli Clark has been carrying out field research in the sub-arctic lakes of Finland, Kilpisjärvi being one of them. During her time at Kilpisjärvi, Charli focused her attention on collecting plankton from under the Lake’s ice to understand how to identify these minute creatures and how best to use the equipment. This is the start of a collaboration with a marine scientist to increase awareness of the importance of the oceans, and lakes, to the development of human culture. Below is an expanded explanation of the on going project, that began in January and will continue through out the year, with field visits to coastal towns, exhibitions and workshops concerned with engaging people with the importance of the wild water within their localities.
Catch Your Breath 2015,
Catch Your Breath is a collaboration between artist, Charli Clark and marine biologist Lydia Bach to examine the importance of phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, in relation to being human. Human agency, the capacity of us to act in this world, is affected and enabled by many non-human agents and phytoplankton is one of them.
Phytoplankton are single celled algae found in the upper layers of the oceans. Collectively, they produce over 50% of the world’s oxygen annually. Not only is this oxygen imperative to our existence, phytoplankton also acts as a carbon sink, taking it deep into the sea. The phytoplankton species we are focusing on is the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, a single celled species, made of carbonate plates, with a global population of about 70 billion trillion cells scattered across the world ocean, and currently adapted to most of Earth’s marine environments. Above the ocean surface, the remains of this species become chalk, limestone and marble, shaping places we know and identify with, forming and defining some of the culturally important landscapes of today, i.e. the White Cliffs of Dover.
Climate change is altering the occurrence, form and shape Emiliania, with consequences that are difficult to predict. Through a series of ‘experiments’, ‘Catch Your Breath’ will explore and engage with the importance of phytoplankton in this changing world, understanding it as the base of the food chain fueling most marine ecosystem independent of humanity, but also with direct relation to culture, life and further more for us, breath.
‘Catch Your Breath’ is being developed as one of the artist and scientist pairs in Paper Makers: Bringing science to life through art. For more information about this project or the other Paper Maker pairs follow this link