Oil film simulation of both the initial surface slick as well as deep subsurface plumes resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. HD video loop, colour with stereo sound, 6:27 mins. exhibited in conjunction with audio from the lawsuit filed against BP by nature under the principle of universal jurisdiction in Quito, Ecuador, 26 November 2010. The installation also includes satellite imagery, Public Lab kite photography, animation, and an  underwater video feed.

Full-length preview copies of this video and its companion audio piece are available upon request.

Earthlings, Fotograf Festival, Czech Republic (2021)

The Belkin Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2019)

This Must be True, Khoj, Delhi, India (2019)

74 million million million tons, SculptureCenter, Queens, NY, USA (2018)


The Brooklyn Rail

Arte Fuse

A New Exhibit Examines Humanity’s Abuse of Water

Installation view from Spill Morris & Hellen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC Vancouver, 2019.

Installation view from 74 million million million tons, SculptureCenter commission, New York, 2018.

In the initial days of the disaster—before the drilling rig sank into the sea—its image regime was localised at the site of the blowout (although not necessarily the scene of the crime, which was distributed across corporate actors around the globe as the various investigative commissions would eventually expose) and dominated by spectacular shots of the burning rig engulfed by flames and bilious toxic smoke. The kind of dramatic images that demand our immediate attention and which Rob Nixon’s thesis of “slow violence” indicts as standing in the way of ecological justice. When the disastrous object disappeared from view into the murky depths below, its image-making capacities and modes of image-capture began to multiple various forms of technical media and distribution platforms.

Soon our public gaze was suspended between two new media geographies, the real-time underwater cameras that streamed blurry images of gushing crude as it defied all efforts to cap the leak and the Earth observation satellites that transmitted aerial datasets tracking the spill’s expansion across the surface waters of the Gulf. Yet in contrast to these highly technical satellite images, which appeared primarily in scientific contexts and government reports, the underwater cameras returned the accident to the domesticated sphere of online spectatorship allowing us to peer into the proximate and abject space of the accident with the click of a mouse.

Yet this impoverished real-time video-feed was somehow deemed insufficient to BP who decided at a certain point to doctor a scene of their employees monitoring the remote-controlled underwater cameras in their Houston Command Center. In the original photograph three of the video feeds were turned off but in the new version of the image, all video streams are in full operation suggesting comprehensive round-the-clock coverage. This altered image featured prominently on BP’s website and was promoted as evidence of their continued and comprehensive oversight of the accident. By the time the leaking exploratory well was finally capped on 15 July 2010 it had spewed an estimated 4.1 million barrels of crude into the Gulf, permanently damaging its marine biology, destroying coastal wildlife, polluting habitats and shutting down the fishing communities reliant upon the ecological bounty of the Gulf.