I recently decided to chronicle the progress of the project Into the Deep on my blog as well as on Patreon.
Into the Deep Project Overview
This project aims to answer these questions but also create new questions
What would happen if we could actually drop into the very deepest part of the ocean?
What would we see/ experience?
What would we learn about ourselves if we took that same journey into the recesses of our mind/ body/ soul?
What can we learn from bioluminescent sea creatures that live in the most extreme environments on earth?
What is bioluminescence? is the production and emission of light by a living organism.
To present these animals in a way we’d find them in the deep each panel will feature creature from a specific Zone or Depth of the ocean
Mesopelagic ( Twilight) Zone- 200-1,000m (660-3,300ft) Bathypelagic ( Midnight) Zone- 1,000 - 4,000m ( 3,300-13,000ft) Abyssopelagic ( Abyss) Zone - 4,000 - 6,000m (13,000 - 20,000ft) Hadopelagic ( Trench) Zone - 6,000 - 11,033m (20,000 - 36,200ft)
1st creating sketches 2nd translate drawings to 4x4' woodcuts 3rd spending 30-40hrs woodcutting each of the 8 panels 4th printing the panels on fabric estimated printing in spring 2019 of all panels cut ( 1-3 panels) 5th stretching fabric over frames/ creating wall hangings 6th hand- painting the parts of each creature that are bioluminescent with reflective paint 7th additional small woodcuts of creatures created for educational purposes. 8th educational guides will be created for the exhibit with names, sizes of each creature categorized by depth/ area 9th Exhibition collaboration with local musicians/ video artists to create a whole experience
Aim to have 8 4x4' panels cut and printed by the end of 2019 but this could potentially take longer
The scope of this project is very large and will likely take several years ( this started in 2018) Aiming to have first exhibition locally in Madison in spring of 2020
There is potential to travel with this exhibit
Included for the really deep divers...
Inspiration and Philosophy
The inspiration for this project came while reading the book “Glow: Animals with Their own Night - Lights” by W. H. Beck with my oldest son. The book is about bioluminescence and this particular passage about dinoflagellates stuck out.
"Little animals glow. But if you have enough of them they can have a BIG effect"
The fact that small creatures can coalesce together with spectacular results ( in the case of dino-flagellates glowing tides) is a metaphor for the times we live in.While researching further I discovered that Bioluminescence is the most common form of communication on earth!
I was ever curious and then read the book “Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness” by Peter Godfrey-Smith and learned that the ocean is the cradle of life, how we evolved from single-celled organisms, developed nervous systems to support our consciousness, just as an octopus has but in a completely different way. A powerful quote from the book:
“When you dive into the sea you are diving into the origin of us all”
This perfectly describes this feeling deep within that pursuing this project is also a way of raising consciousness.
Into the deep on the surface is about these amazing creatures and a sci-fi take on humans being able to descend into the ocean, but it’s also about diving deeper into ourselves. It’s about how these creatures living in the harshest most extreme environment on the planet, without light have evolved in the dark and how we can learn to do the same.
All of these interesting facts compiled together were instrumental in turning my fascination, awe, and curiosity into admiration, respect, and love.
Education and saving the sea
Aside from philosophy, a huge goal of Into the Deep is to allow people to experience what the depths of the sea are like. To bring these creatures into focus is the start of changing the way we think about the oceans.
Again Peter Godfrey-Smith sums this up:
“ The features that made the sea productive of life and mind are invisible to us most of the time. They exist on a tiny scale, the sea does not change visibly as we do things to it- not in the way that cutting down a forest is immediately, undeniably visible. Waste poured into the sea just seems to drift and dilute away. As a result the sea rarely appears urgent as an environmental problem”
To evoke the same feelings of wonder most people feel about space exploration in artwork/exhibits about the deep sea is the first step in caring about the ocean and about the actions we take that affect it.
This are the titles of each Panel:
Panel 1- Surrender ( epipelagic)
Panel 2- Detachment ( mesopelagic)
Panel 3- Discovery ( bathypelagic)
Panel 4- Conception (bathypelagic)
Panel 5- Renewal (abyssalpelagic)- lower left
Panel 6 - Trials and Tribulations (abyssalpelagic)
Panel 7 - Reconnect ( hadalpelagic)
Panel 8- Resurface (epipelagic)
I started cutting panel 2 before having worked through all the sketches and it originally was going to be the first panel but I decided to add an additional panel because I felt it was important to include the very first panel as a how this started or light introduction or acclamation before the panel by panel descent begins.
This project has included vast amounts of research, cross referencing, evolving and story building to get to this point and now it's about execution. It's the most focus I have ever given to a project and has been ongoing since the beginning of 2018. I have given many details about the overall project and even the titles of each panel but that is all the detail I am going to give about each individual panels meaning because every person has their own journey and should be able to determine in their own way what each panel is saying to them.
On Patreon, I feature video clips, other progress shots and have talked about other meanings that have attached themselves to the panels as I'm producing them. If you'd like to see this project unfold in real time or would like to support this project and receive awesome awards click this Patreon link for more information