Sometimes I dedicate a day or afternoon to aimlessly wandering around all the galleries in Chelsea. After a few hours of doing this I start to get bored of seeing the same set up; fancy gallery with completely white walls, and a handful of scattered canvases amongst them. I begin to long for something different, a new place where one might see the creative ideas of mankind. Well someone heard my plea, his name is Jason deCaires Taylor, and his gallery is located at the bottom of the ocean. His works are one part artistic expression, one part monument, and one part natural habitat. He is truly not only creating something interesting to look at, but also improving the life of living organisms in the process.
Taylor is putting just as much if not more scientific thought into his projects as he is artistic thought. His works are helping to improve the choral reef situation in several different ways. First of all, the works themselves are designed to house various kinds of ocean life and growth. The sculptures are intended to change over time and provide resources and shelter to different organisms. In addition, the projects are becoming quite the tourist attraction, so people are spending less time damaging natural coral reefs, and more time with his. And lastly, it is calling for a new kind of attention to the growing problem. In the past few decades, we have lost 40% of our coral reefs, and if we don’t do more to deal with this loss, there will be major environmental changes that we might not even be able to predict.
So scientifically, the work is fascinating. Artistically, it’s pretty impressive as well. Taylor seems to like to deal with some common themes in his sculptures. He uses the term “balancing relationships.” Which to me seems very fitting. Like the idea of a car, one of the more harmful inventions toward our environment, then becoming the home for a wide variety of ocean creatures. Or in the same vein, aquatic life finding shelter in a lazy man watching television, holds the same level of irony to me.
If for nothing else I like that I can use Taylor’s work as an example when art literally was improving the world we live in. I hope he can do sculptures likes this everywhere, and I hope more artists can take ideas like this and run with it, or swim if need be.