Lurking underwater off the sandy shores of Cancun is a 400-strong army of cement sculptures, the largest submerged museum in the world. Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor designed this submarine attraction for the MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) in Cancun to highlight natural ecological processes and explore the relationships that exist between art and the environment.
Each of the sculptures is made from 'specialised materials' (sorry that's the most detailed information I could get from the google-translated Spanish press release!) that promote coral life which will lead to an artificial reef. This will attract marine life whilst offering the viewer privileged temporal encounters governed by the growing coral and shifting sand; the work changing from moment to moment.
The equivalent installation on land would provide a quite different optical and physical experience due to the dramatic difference in the number of angles and perspectives available and due to the unique properties of water. Jason de Caires Taylor describes the experience as being
'Vastly different from that of being on land. Objects appear twenty five percent larger underwater, and as a consequence they also appear closer. Colours alter as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates, with the depth of the water affecting this further. The light source in water is from the surface, this produces kaleidoscopic effects governed by water movement, currents and turbulence.'
The installation weighs over 180 tonnes in total and occupies an area of over 420 square metres of barren sea bed. In time, marine life will grow and develop and, with it, the sculpture will evolve and come to life. It will be interesting to look back at these sculptures in a few months time as I imagine they will look dramatically different and infinitely more beautiful.
Below is a little glimpse into the future; a photo from one of Taylor’s past projects that has had time to engage with its new environment.