Listening to the ocean

Grenfell visual arts professor to exhibit at The Rooms

It all began when nine blue whales died in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence in 2014, washing up on the shores of Trout River, Bonne Bay, Gros Morne National Park.

Prof. Marc Losier of Grenfell’s visual arts program, whose practice specializes in photography, film, installation, and sound, has immortalized the whales in a series of works, titled Narratives of Loss, using a variety of photographic techniques to represent the story of the whales. His work How Deep is the Ocean? (Narratives of Loss), will be exhibited at The Rooms in St. John’s from Jan. 23 to April 18. His work is featured in the 2019 Research and Graduate Studies Report: Powered by Grenfell.

Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), 2018 Marc Losier photo.

Prof. Losier’s research about whales “has led to new interests around bio-acoustics and underwater recording, both in relation in to marine mammals, but also commercial ocean traffic noise.”

In late 2019, Prof Losier travelled to Barcelona to attend the World Marine Mammals Conference, where he was able to meet with scientists from all over the globe and learn about the ways they study and follow particular species, both photographically, as well as acoustically.

“I also met with an amazing team from Nova Scotia – Ocean Sonics – which has been developing specialized hydrophones for recording and broadcasting underwater sound,” he said.

This technology was instrumental in the development of the acoustic artwork being presented at The Rooms as part of, Hello Land: Art, War, and the Wireless Imagination, curated by Darryn Doull, former curator of Canadian Art at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, and Melony Ward.

“My work for the exhibition is titled, How Deep is the Ocean? and will involve the live broadcast of underwater sound from Bonne Bay, Gros Morne,” he said, adding the work is in conjunction with a suite of interviews with community members, scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum, and museum technicians involved in the collection of the blue whales from the area in 2014. Richard Kelly, Project Engineer with the Marine Institute, is helping Prof. Losier to engineer the installation of the hydrophone in Bonne Bay. In addition to the underwater broadcast, the interviews will be played at The Rooms as well.

“The exhibition is going to generate an oral history archive of the environmental disaster from 2014 that will be broadcast in Gros Morne National Park on FM radio in late summer 2021,” said Prof. Losier.

He recently installed a photographic mural, Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), at Trout River, bringing the whale “home” again. Read more at CBC here.

One of the images from this project was commissioned by Creative Gros Morne and installed at Trout River as a public artwork: Still Life III (Narratives of Loss), 2018; photographic mural, vinyl print mounted on dibond; 82 in. (2.08m) x 288 in. (7.31m). Marc Losier photo.

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