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Description of a Seascape Compilation Report

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Updated: Nov 4th, 2021

The seascape under discussion is a compilation of three images of underwater reef scenes. The content focuses on the depiction of brightly colored tropical fish congregating around different configurations of corals. In each case, there is a stream of bubbles present that suggests an aquarium setting rather than a setting in the wild, although the scope of the imagery places it logically within a more natural setting. Although brightly colored and seemingly full of life, these images convey a sense of the death of known planetary features such as the coral reefs through its depiction of the coral, its choice of wildlife, and its suggestion of artificiality.

In each of the images under view, the coral depicted in the reef has a nearly dead quality to it. Coral reefs are known to be areas of the sea in which life flourishes. The fish that live there live there in great numbers, provided with a banquet table of available food and providing a further banquet to a wide variety of larger fish, including sharks and dolphins. In order to do this, the reef must be healthy, demonstrating a wealth of plantlike activity and color. There is a significant lack of this kind of color in all of these images. The coral is made to look dead by the artist’s inclusion of some life. In the first image, for instance, the coral cave appears as a bumpy gray tube that the viewer is looking through. In the near view, the coral takes on some life and color here and there, which is sufficient only to point out how much of the rest of the reef is dead, indicated by its lack of color. This same approach is taken in the remaining images as well as the rare patch of living coral makes it clear just how much of it is already dead.

The wildlife depicted in these images also emphasizes the degree to which these reefs are dying off as well. In the first image, there is a suggestion of fish life out near the opening of the tube in the form of a few shadows, but not a thriving community of fish one should expect. In the near view, the fish are both more plentiful and more colorful, but they still seem rather scarce. The second image gives more of the impression of the life expected to be found at a coral reef as the water teems with brilliant orange fish and black and white striped fish, but the surrounding coral obviously offers this nothing to eat as it is lifeless and grey in all visible areas and nothing larger than a goldfish can be seen. This impression of the dying reef is also emphasized in the third image as only six or seven fish remain visible at a reef that appears more like a wasteland.

The final message of these paintings, though, seems to come forward through the inclusion of the artificial, perhaps intended as a suggestion of how to save the reefs. This single point of artificiality is the spout, visible in each of the three images, of air bubbles such as one, might find in an aquarium. In the artificial setting, this spout of air bubbles is intended to provide fish and other sea life with the oxygen it needs to survive. One of the greatest threats to coral reefs today is the problem of what is known as ‘dead zones, areas of the ocean that have been so impacted by pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer run-off from farmlands that it is depleted of its natural oxygen content. Unlike fish, the coral reefs can’t just swim away to find a more oxygen-enriched habitat, so it dies. Understanding the painting from this perspective infuses the scene with a point of hope. Perhaps, instead of being in the last throes of dying, these reefs, protected by and provided for by humans, are in the process of returning to life.

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IvyPanda. "Description of a Seascape Compilation." November 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/description-of-a-seascape-compilation/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Description of a Seascape Compilation." November 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/description-of-a-seascape-compilation/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Description of a Seascape Compilation'. 4 November.

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