LIFE

Europe’s First Underwater Museum Sends A Haunting Message About Climate Change

by Beth Buczynski
Beth is a sipper of coffee and a spoiler of cats. She's been writing for the Internet in one way or another since 2008.

According to experts, if humanity doesn’t do something fast, Earth is soon going to be a very complicated place to call home.

Everyone from NASA to National Geographic is troubled by unfriendly changes that have taken place on our planet over the last few decades. One of the most pressing concerns is sea level rise, caused by the added water from melting land ice and the expansion of sea water as it warms.

Unless you live in a coastal region, however, sea level rise can be hard to visualize. That’s why artist Jason deCaires Taylor has been working on a way to help Europeans “see” sea level rise in action.

Jason’s amazing lifelike sculptures were recently installed at Museo Atlantico, Europe’s first underwater museum in the Canary Islands. And as with these at-home ecosystems, his work is making an enormous difference, while being beautiful at the same time.

Scroll through below to learn more about this incredible collection, and how it will raise awareness of the threats facing our world’s oceans, as well as promote the growth of a large-scale artificial coral reef.

[H/T: Inhabitat]

As a British artist, diver, and naturalist, Jason has been making underwater art for over a decade.

He created his sculptures on dry land. They look like modern human beings wearing the same clothes and carrying the same gadgets that you and I do.

This similarity isn’t a coincidence. These sculptures are designed to make us think about what would happen if our world were to be swallowed up entirely by water.

When ready, the sculptures are carefully lowered to the ocean floor, some 50 feet under the surface.

This will be their final resting place. The sculptures appear to be frozen in time, as if they were completely clueless to the “disaster” headed their way.

The museum’s main installation features an assembly of 35 figures walking in the same direction.

They are meant to symbolize the “Instagram generation” walking toward a wall, described by the curators as “a point of no return or a portal to another world.”

A second installation titled “The Raft of Lampedusa” is meant to represent the ongoing humanitarian crisis resulting from climate change and sea level rise.

In it, we see a boat of figures desperately waiting for treatment and aid.

Jason says the raft scene is a reference to French painter Théodore Géricault’s work, “The Raft of the Medusa.”

Jason uses the piece to draw parallels between the abandonment suffered by sailors in Géricault’s shipwreck scene, and the people who are and will be displaced because their homes get swallowed up by the rising sea.

“The work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost, but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibility of our now global community,” the artist told DesignBoom.

Something about the blue-green glow of the ocean, and the complete absence of humanity’s noise, makes this a very powerful exhibit. It provides a chance for us to be still, and really contemplate the choices we’re making  and how they’ll affect our children and future generations.

If you’d like to see Jason’s “drowning sculptures” for yourself, Museo Atlantico will open February 25, 2016, and will be accessible to snorkelers and divers.

Not a snorkeler? Learn more about Jason’s work on his website.

Would you want to take a dive down to see this incredible underwater museum? Let us know in the comments.

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