Prospecting Ocean: Artistic Research in the Oceanic Anthropocene

As part the spring 2020 public program at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), curator Stefanie Hessler (Faculty Berlin ’19) and artist Armin Linke will present the public talk, “Prospecting Ocean: Artistic Research in the Oceanic Anthropocene,” and discuss their ongoing research into the intermingled social forces at play in the excavation of the world’s oceans.

The talk on 30th March continues the work published the book Prospecting Ocean (MIT PRESS) by Hessler, which includes a visual essay by Linke, released last year. Prospecting Ocean is described as “Investigating the entanglement of industry, politics, culture, and economics at the frontier of ocean excavations through an innovative union of art and science.”

Armin Linke, Prospecting Ocean. Installation view at CNR-ISMAR, Venice, 2018. Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. Photo Giulia Bruno

The oceans are crucial to the planet’s well-being. They help regulate the global carbon cycle, support the resilience of ecosystems, and provide livelihoods for communities. The oceans as guardians of planetary health are threatened by many forces, including growing extractivist practices. Through the innovative lens of artistic research, Prospecting Ocean investigates the entanglement of industry, politics, culture, and economics at the frontier of ocean excavation. The result is a richly illustrated study that unites science and art to examine the ecological, cultural, philosophical, and aesthetic reverberations of this current threat to the oceans.

Prospecting Oceans takes as its starting point an exhibition by the photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke, which was commissioned by TBA21–Academy, London, and first shown at the Institute of Marine Science (CNR-ISMAR) in Venice. Linke is concerned with making the invisible visible, and here he unmasks the technologies that enable extractions from the ocean, including future seabed mining for minerals and sampling of genetic data. But the book extends far beyond Linke’s research, presenting the latest research from a variety of fields and employing art as the place where disciplines can converge. Integrating the work of artists with scientific, theoretical, and philosophical analysis, Prospecting Ocean demonstrates that visual culture offers new and urgent perspectives on ecological crises.
– Prospecting Ocean



March 30th, 2020
GSD, Gund Hall Piper Auditorium.

Harvard University
Address: 48 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138, United States

Free and open to the public.
Full information on the talk here.

The full public program can be viewed on Harvard GSD’s events calendar.


About Stefanie Hessler
Stefanie Hessler is a curator and writer. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary processes, long-term collaborations with artists and researchers from different fields, and systems, be they ecological, economic, or societal. She is the director of Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway.