PORTRAIT OF

A KELP FOREST

Software development for a collaborative project with marine biologists, coastal communities and a kelp by Elena Alonso Fernández.

Portrait of a Kelp Forest is a participatory, artistic research project that was carried out in Galicia (north-west Spain). With this project, the artist Elena Alonso Fernández portrays an essential element of this coast: kelp forests, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

 

Following her idea of a portrait based on participation, Alonso Fernández worked with the people who know these algae best: the marine biologists engaged with their
conservation and the coastal communities who have been in direct contact with them for decades.

Alonso Fernández immersed herself in this ecosystem, dived with biologists and algae collectors, sailed with
fishermen and interviewed several marine experts, documenting all these experiences and personal narratives with video. This research indirectly flowed into her paintings, testimonies of the algae that now come to the surface in vibrant colors and become protagonists. But more than objects of observation, the kelp plays an active role in its own portrait. With the help of an underwater sensor, Alonso Fernández recorded the movements of the seaweed for two months.

 

Using her paintings as a starting point, she employed creative coding to generate animations determined directly by the movements of the kelp, which can now be viewed in augmented reality
(AR) on any mobile device. The seaweed has become, through this process, co–author of the project.

 

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