Catch Your Breath' is a collaboration between artist Charli Clark and marine biologist Lydia Bach, examining the importance of phytoplankton in the world's oceans, in relation to being human. Human agency, the capacity of us to act in this world, is affected and enabled by many non-human agents and phytoplankton is one of them.
Phytoplankton are predominantly single celled algae found in the upper layers of the oceans. Collectively, they produce over 50% of the world's oxygen annually. Not only is this oxygen imperative to our existence, phytoplankton also acts as a carbon sink, taking it deep into the sea.
|Phytoplankton under the microscope|
The phytoplankton species we will focus on is the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, a single celled species, made of carbonate plates, with a global population of over 70 billion trillion cells scattered across the world ocean, adapted to most of Earth’s marine environments. Above the ocean surface, the remains of this species become chalk, limestone and marble, shaping places we know and identify with, forming and defining some of the culturally important landscapes of today, such as the White Cliffs of Dover.
Climate change is altering the occurrence, form and shape Emiliania, with consequences that are difficult to predict. Through a series of 'experiments', 'Catch Your Breath' will explore and engage with the importance of phytoplankton in this changing world, understanding it as the base of the food chain fuelling most marine ecosystem independent of humanity, but also with direct relation to culture, life and further more for us, breath.