I NEED THE SEA BECAUSE IT TEACHES ME

March 5 - 7, 2019, UCLA Broad Art Center, Los Angeles, California

1) The Waves (humble me) / multi-channel video installation with audio / loops
2) Grieve with me (Washington Post: “‘Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss”) / single-channel video with audio / 14 min.
3) Clair de Lune, Ocean’s Variation / immersive video environment with audio / 16 min.
4) I hold the heat for you / archival inkjet print / 36” x 24”

ARTIST STATEMENT:

“I need the sea because it teaches me”  – Pablo Neruda, from his poem, “The Sea”

The artwork in this show investigates the idea of the ocean—and by extension, the whole of the natural world and materiality itself—as existentially significant on its own terms, outside of human meaning or relationship.

When we truly reckon with the existential ongoing-ness of the ocean—that it exists in fullness with or without us as direct witnesses—we are shocked into recognition of the accident of our embodiment as discreet subjectivities located within the confines of finite bodies.

For Marshall McLuhan, media are extensions of the human being. New technologies like webcams, which provide us with realtime windows onto phenomena existing beyond our normal sensory horizons, play a role in demonstrating the contingency of our embodied points of view, thus provoking us to reckon with the existential reality of the material “other.”

This material “other” crucially includes the natural world. Therefore, to acknowledge the existential validity of materiality means to recognize the right of the natural world to autonomous existence outside of human interests and concerns. Such a shift is precisely what is necessary if we are to seriously contend with ecological crisis in the anthropocene.

– ERIN COONEY