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[highlight1]  ‘Silent Evolution Sculpture (MUSA Collection)’  [/highlight1]

Created by Mexico-based British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the Caribbean installation is intended to eventually cover more than 4,520 square feet (420 square meters), which would make it “one of the largest and most ambitious underwater attractions in the world.

More than 400 of the permanent sculptures have been installed in recent months in the National Marine Park of Cancún, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc as part of a major artwork called “The Silent Evolution.” The installation is the first endeavor of a new underwater museum called MUSA, or Museo Subacuático de Arte (The Museum of Underwater Art).

Jason deCaires Taylor is an internationally acclaimed eco-sculptor who creates underwater living sculptures, offering viewers mysterious, ephemeral encounters and fleeting glimmers of another world where art and life develop from the effects of nature on the efforts of man. His site-specific, permanent installations are designed to act as artificial reefs, attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and aggregating fish species, while crucially diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs and thus providing space for natural rejuvenation. Subject to the abstract metamorphosis of the underwater environment, his works symbolize a striking symbiosis between man and nature, balancing messages of hope and loss.

Since 2006 he has created and founded two large scale underwater Museums, one on the island of Grenada in the West Indies, which has subsequently been documented as a “Wonder of the World” by National Geographic and a monumental collection of over 412 pieces in Mexico called MUSA (Museo Subaquático de Arte), now listed by Forbes as one of the world’s most unique travel destinations.

In Molinere Bay on the West coast of Grenada, is the world’s first, underwater sculpture park. Established in May 2006, the park is home to a collection of 65 sculptures created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The works act as artificial reefs that help to promote coral growth and regenerate marine life in an area devastated by the ¬†impact of Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004/5.

Since their installation the sculptures have mutated dramatically, a result of the kaleidoscopic array of coral that has attached itself to them. Their cement surfaces no longer visible; subsumed by the creeping algae and lichen. A plethora of tropical fish and crustaceans have made homes within the crevices of the sculptures, who stand eerily still in the fluctuating waves of the abyss. Taylor’s work is located at an extraordinary confluence, where art develops from the effects of nature on the efforts of man. By bequeathing his sculptures to the sea, he stimulates an intriguing process; Taylor’s figurative work becomes subject to the abstract metamorphosis of the underwater environment.

Partnering with Marine Biologist Heather Spence and Colegio Ecab A.C, The Listener portrays a lone figure that is assembled entirely from casts of human ears molded during a workshop of local Cancun students aged 8-12. The sculpture located within the National Marine Park of Cancun is fitted with a revolutionary NOAA-designed hydrophone, which is continually recording sounds from the reef environment and storing the data to an internal water resistant Hard drive.

Although the marine environment is often referred to as the silent world it is actually reverberating with a myriad of noises from, crustaceans clicking, fish feeding, waves breaking to boats passing overhead. Sound also travels approximately four times faster in water than in air. This experimental method of non-invasive Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) aims to try to understand some of complex sound activities that are taking place underwater and see if this data can in turn be used for conservation and research.

The form symbolizes a passive relationship between humans and nature whilst aiming to engage local students in reef conservation and draw focus to the much-needed ability to listen.

Over the past few decades we have lost over 40% of our natural coral reefs and scientists predict a demise of 80% by 2050. Only about 10 – 15% of the seabed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally. In order to increase the number of reefs in these areas, artificial reefs have recently been created from materials that are durable, secure and environmentally sensitive.

These artificial reefs attract corals, sponges, hydroids, increase overall reef biomass and aggregate fish species which in turn, can support an entire marine ecosystem. However one of the greatest benefits of artificial reefs is that they have relieved the pressure on natural reefs which have been over-fished, over-visited and damaged by natural events. By diverting attention to artificial reefs, natural reefs have a greater chance to repair and regenerate. Taylor works also aims to usher in a new era for tourism, one of culture and environmental awareness, in hope that the millions of tourists may begin to reconceptualise the beaches they haunt as more than sunny slices of heaven but living and breathing ecosystems.

Some of his sculptures are propagated with live coral cuttings rescued from areas of the reef system damaged by storms and human activity. This technique, a well-established procedure in reef conservation, rescues damaged coral fragments by providing a suitable new substrate. All sculpture are made from inert pH neutral environmentally friendly marine cement.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) said in the report that ocean cover 70% of our planet and represent over 95% of the biosphere. Marine and coastal habitants include coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass beds, estuaries, hydrothermal vents, seamounts and soft sediments on the ocean floor deep below the surface.

Deep-seabed habitats host between 500,000 and 10 million species. Deep-sea life is essential to life on Earth because its crucial role in global biogeochemical cycles including nutrient regeneration and oxygen.

This tremendous wealth of biodiversity and ecosystem services is not infinite. Today, human activities are greatly threatening the seas and coasts through overfishing, destructive fishing practices, pollution and waste disposal, agricultural runoff, invasive alien species, and habitat destruction.

Recent scientific results hilighted that higher biodiversity can enhance the functioning and efficiency of deep-sea ecosystem. To create a habitat for marine life, marine biodiversity by creating the one of a kind master pieces of underwater sculptures, says it all to the preservation of ecosystem services and marine biodiversity done by an eco-artist, Jason deCaires Taylor.

About Jason deCaires Taylor:

Jason deCaires Taylor (born 12 August 1974) is an English sculptor specialising in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs. Taylor integrates his skills as a conservationist, underwater photographer and scuba diving instructor to produce unique installations that encourage the habitation and growth of corals and marine life. His early work includes Vicissitudes, Grace Reef, The Lost Correspondent and The Unstill Life. All are located in the world´s first public underwater sculpture park in Molinere Bay, Grenada, West Indies, commissioned in 2006. More recently his most ambitious project to date is the creation of the world’s largest underwater sculpture museum, MUSA, situated off the coast of Cancun and the western coast of Isla Mujeres. Works in the museum include Hombre en llamas (Man on Fire ), La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope), El Colecionista de los Sueños (The Dream Collector) and La Evolución Silenciosa(The Silent Evolution).

His pioneering public art projects are not only examples of successful marine conservation, but inspirational works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world.

Taylor hopes the reefs, which are already stressed by marine pollution, warming waters, and overfishing, can catch a break from the approximately 750,000 tourists who visit local reefs each year.

[highlight1]  Data  [/highlight1]

Name: Silent Evolution
Location: National Marine Park of Cancún, Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Project Area: 420 sqm
Depth: 8 m
Year: Varies
Process: permanent sculptures under the water

[highlight1] The people [/highlight1]

Artist: Jason deCaires Taylor, Taylor is currently based in Cancun, Mexico, where he is the founder and Artistic Director of the Museo Subaquatico de Arte (MUSA).
Text Description: © Courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor, nationalgeographic, eco-question
Images: © Jason deCaires Taylor

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