There’s a popular folk myth that says if you hold a shell to your ear–specifically, a conch shell– you can hear the sounds of the ocean. No matter how far away you are, you can hear the roaring of the sea inside a shell. In Shell Resonance, this folk myth is brought to life with the illustrious presentation of brightly coloured conch shells lying in the palms of larger-than-life human arms. Reaching up from the sand, the work is an open invitation that encourages the audience to lean down and, like the folk myth, listen to the swell of ocean.
However, the ocean now is quite different to the ocean of our childhood. According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, between 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year. It is the most common form of marine debris and, having entered the water, will never fully biodegrade. Juxtaposed next to the open waters of the ocean, Shell Resonance subverts the audience’s expectations and asks that they reflect the current state of the ocean. To some, what appears as the presentation of a gift–the shells–is actually a last ditch effort to others. Sinking below the sands, the arms reach upwards one last time in an effort to make us really consider how we’re impacting the world around us.
With digital speakers embedded inside the conch shell, the audience hears the rustling of plastic instead of rushing waves. As the amount of plastic in the ocean increases daily, Shell Resonance aims to start a conversation with viewers, and encourages them to recognise what the ocean truly sounds like–plastic.
In collaboration with Clean Up Australia.
Receivers of the Clitheroe Mentorship