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cyanotype of .03 inch thick line, the average amount that waters of Captiva Island, FL are rising every ten days, from Conveyance, smudge studio 2016
We just returned from three weeks on Captiva Island, Florida as part of the Rising Waters II Confab hosted by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Despite the standard dictionary definition of confab (to talk together casually, and to fill in gaps in one’s memory with fabrications that one believes to be facts), our time on Captiva was not only filled with playful and casual conversation, it was also remarkably challenging and immersive.
Soon after we arrived, we learned that at such a (relatively) southern latitude, the speed at which we are riding the Earth’s eastward spin is 300 mph faster than when we’re in New York. To our eyes, sunrises and sunsets on Captiva proceeded at a palpably faster pace than we’re used to seeing off the Northeast coast.
After a few days, the sea seemed to be rising faster around us too. We did a simple math equation based on recent climate change models, to visualize scientists’ conclusions that the waters around Captiva are rising about .003 inches each day.
We drew a pencil line that is.03 inches thick to represent a ten-day rise.
The highest elevation on Captiva Island is approximately eleven feet. The average elevation on Rauschenberg Foundation property where we were staying is 3.1 feet. The property faces the risk of 285 tidally-induced flood days by 2045.*
We spent several days and evenings working inside and on the deck of the Fish House. We experienced the sensations of remoteness that it affords. We watched pelicans glide a feather’s height above the water. We listened to the ceiling fan and watched waves. We paged through collections Ding Darling’s political cartoons here, where the renowned and revered artist, Pulitzer prize winner, and conservationist drew many of them. We were gratified by the generous and creative human spirit of Robert Rauschenberg, who acquired the Fish House and lovingly preserved it for artists to use as inspiration.
The reality of rising sea levels globally and locally necessitates migrations of many sorts, including migrations of ideas, emotions, sense of place, self and other. We sense that psychological and philosophical migrations of habitual ways of thinking and feeling are as vital to realizing the theme of the residency, “graceful migration,” as are infrastructural, scientific and preparatory/adaptive actions.
Graceful migration — how to live with the realities of massive change without being overtaken by paralyzing fear, depression, guilt.
Our three weeks on Captiva led us to invent a project we decided to call Conveyance. Via an aperture in a shoebox, we created cyanotype images of 15 sites and structures on the Rauschenberg Foundation property.
The medial, processual nature of the cyanotype involved us in the material changing that IS these structures. We waited for the light. We noted the humidity, time of day. We collaborated with the sun to convey form and elements to paper via a shoebox aperture. We waited more. We immersed paper in cold water.
Reflections of structures came into view, incomplete images signaling from within a groundless sea of blue. The stuff that makes them and the sites that hold them will go on transforming into very deep futures. The subtle creative spirits and histories that dwell within these buildings also are embarking on a great migration, propelled by planetary phase shifts.
We offer this series of fifteen cyanotypes as a means of conveyance, escort, accompaniment.
the Fish House, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva Island, FL, smudge studio
Fish House, from Conveyance, smudge studio 2016
Waldo Cottage, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva Island, FL, smudge studio
project installation at Rising Waters II Open Studio, Captiva Island, FL May 24, 002016
* “Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment”, Coastal Risk Consulting, May 2016
** Sincere thanks to our hosts and collaborators both at the Confab and at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
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