Territorial Agency

Oceans in Transformation

The world ocean is undergoing a major set of transformations, it is enveloped in a millenary shift from a long period of relative climatic stability. The transformations are plural: they traverse a multiplicity of elements, circulations, life forms, environments, and operate across a gradient of dimensions, energies and rhythms. The rise of the Anthropocene epoch cuts through long established relations, mixes and dissolves elements, multiplying and scattering spaces. The coupling between life and its planetary environment might be entering a complex instability.

The word ocean is one, yet its transformations are many. Many are also the ways to sense and inquire into them: each one mobilising specific knowledges and expertise, referring to different and often divergent logics, imaginaries, instruments. The oceans are in this sense plural, with little overlaps and synergies between different actors and research groups. The project is a way to unlock new collaborations and achieve synergies, starting from a new experience of the ocean through the aggregation of different research datasets.

The ocean is a sensorium: it records in its complex dynamics the transformations of the Earth, and it inscribes back its cycles in the dynamics of life-forms. The global ocean is changing its circulations, energies, interactions and ecologies. It is the most dynamic and sensitive component of our living planet. The ocean is in a new phase of its dynamic history, shaped by intensifications of the impact of human activities on planetary systems—the Anthropocene.

TBA21 Academy and Territorial Agency are collaborating to connect new forms of visibility and understanding of the ocean brought by science, culture and art. The research project inquires into new ways of connecting research groups that are addressing the ocean in transformation, linking science, arts and policy makers by way of shared images, datasets and narratives.

It investigates new forms of visualisation of complex datasets and how to interact with them. It experiments new ways of linking conservation policies with the multiscalar cycles of the Earth System; it looks into new connections between art and other forms of enquiry.

Ocean in Transformation is a research project that investigates how the complex changes in the seas are being sensed, measured and traced by a multiplicity of polities. Bringing together contemporary forms of advanced science with policy making and conservation, activism, art and architecture, its aim is to instigate new forms of collaborative action to safeguard the future of the ocean.

Ocean in Transformation asks how to engage with the changes of the Earth produced by the intensification of human activities starting from the ocean, rather than from a continental viewpoint. Often human activity is described as an intrusion in the pristine marine environments: a narrative that describes pollution, plastics, overfishing, sea acidification, warming and disruption in an alarming and clear way. Yet this narrative also reinforces the clearcut main division between humans and nature.