Almost one year ago I purchased an underwater case for my beloved Sony a7s. I intended to make something very different with it and never did; as of January the case sat in a pile of gear meant to be resold or donated as I moved studios and cleaned things out. But it stuck around, and as it turns out I would need it sooner than anticipated. 

I was recently invited to participate in a public art exhibition in Alameda this September (2020) in collaboration with Doer Submersibles, a submarine company that manufactures equipment for scientific research. Their production facilities are astounding—housed in a massive warehouse in a hangar that once was a site for the C.I.A. to develop photographs from their spy planes.

I was immediately taken by the colonies of mussels on and around the docks outside Doer. They cover almost every surface in bursting clusters. When the tide drops they close up exposed. When the tide is in they open to reveal colorful siphons to filter plankton and other microscopic elements from the water, their primary food source. After a couple site visits, I returned with a wetsuit and snorkel and my new waterproof gear to record some sample footage of the little creatures. It was an incredible full-body challenge to attempt swimming and filming while not disrupting the colony. But I love the way the preliminary footage is even more exciting than what can be seen above water—rich with color and strong lighting, algae floating to create a kind of galaxy.

I also recorded some audio around the site. A few years ago I constructed a hydrophone but it was no longer operational so instead I improvised with a wired lavalier covered in a latex glove. The audio can be heard in both the sample videos below. I’m looking forward to revisiting this and other mussel sites in the coming months.