Tidal Indicators was a performative destruction which took place in July 2017 at St Anthony-in-Meneage, Cornwall. The work was a simple examination of our relationship with the marine environment. Abundance and diversity of seaweed in a marine ecosystem can be taken as an indicator of the system’s overall health. As pollution or disturbance within the system increases, the richness and evenness of the algal community declines.
The social and cultural actions of humanity in a paradigm of positive reinforcement look toward achievement: responsibility for what is lost or destroyed in the process of cultural transformation is not so easily accounted for.
The destruction of the environment is still in a process of decline by small increments. However, a point occurs where the negative influence of humanity’s actions is great enough to tip into a new impoverished regime. The pollution of the seas occur largely outside of direct scrutiny, those responsible are adept at hiding this destruction, for the most part. As the water increases in toxicity, the repeated action of the tide bathing the seaweed will cause its demise. Tidal Indicators was a simple attempt to reinforce the notion that responsibility is collective and urgent and that our relationship to an ecosystem inherently other to ourselves is more complex than is apparent.
The performance consisted of a series of watercolour paintings immersed in the incoming tide. The presence of observers in this context defined the action. Tidal indicators was the culmination of nearly 18 months’ work and research, the paintings featured having been made from observation of seaweed specimens sourced on the beach at St Anthony.