Handcut Styrofoam panels, plexiglas, multicolor LED lighting, 105 x 65 x 10 cm, 2013


Inspired by my Sublime Waste series, I wanted to see how the Sytrofoam sculpting would look at a larger scale and I decided to experiment with LED lights that can variably change into different colors. I returned to the coral pattern, in which the white Styrofoam represents bleached coral. Artificial lighting infuses colour back into the bleached and dying coral.


Reef building corals in the tropics are already living close to their thermal tolerance limit and easily become stressed when exposed to small increases (1 -2 oC, or 1.8-3.6F) in water temperatures (Hughes et al 2003). Coral bleaching is the term given to the process whereby stressed corals evict their resident algal symbionts, not only leaving the coral without color, but often resulting in their deaths.


Calculations using different climate change models all indicate that sea temperatures will exceed thermal tolerances of tropical reef-building corals within the next few decades (Hoegh-Guldberg 1999). It is more likely that bleaching events will become more frequent and intense, occurring annually within the next 30-50 years. (236-237)


Lisa-Ann Gerschwin, Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the future of the Ocean, University of Chicago Press, 2013


Photo credit #2: Margot van Lindenberg