The oceans are rising. On the rise are the metrics of accelerated human activities: sea level, water temperature, acidity, algal blooms, and the depletion of fish communities and marine life. The loss of abundance and diversity has devastating effects on the services the oceans render to the earth, exhausting their unrecognized labor of carbon sequestration, climate resilience, and nutritional offerings. Thinking along a land-sea continuum, how can we fathom the political, aesthetic, and epistemological rise of the oceans from centuries of invisibilization and forgetting? What are the oceans’ own “waves of knowing”? What ideas and memories do the oceans hold in their depth and reanimate in response to the trembling of earth’s ecosystems? How to escape the silos of research and inquiry that narrow and fragment the knowledge of the oceans? Asking new questions and using multiple registers of sensing can lead to a revitalization of the ways humans engage with the oceans at this precarious moment and create new pathways for reparative justice.
‘Oceans Rising’ is a companion reader to the research exhibition “Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation” commissioned by TBA21–Academy, an independent oceanic art-science initiative operating out of Ocean Space in Venice. The publication gathers forty-one thoughtful and generous contributions by artists, scholars, scientists, and ocean activists in response to the rapidly changing oceans. Writing from places of conflict and concern, the contributors respond to the magnitude and urgency of ecological devastation, and, most importantly, provide a multitude of narratives that strengthen our knowledge communities and commit to world-making practices from an oceanic perspective.