La Boheme: A Portrait of Our Oceans in Peril
The tragic tale of interspecies love at the dawn of the Anthropocene age.
Excerpt from “Labocine” interview May 2017
With La Bohème, the message is perhaps much more direct and personal…where the viewer ventures into a droplet of water on a microscopic scale an acidic winter ocean. Based on Giacomo Puccini’s tragic opera, La Bohème, set in 1840′s Paris “La Bohème” depicts the poor young poet Rodolfo, who falls in love with Mimi, a young grisette who is dying of consumption. In this case, Mimi is the Tintinnid plankton sculpture ensnared in plastic riddled with dinoflagellate parasites–a representation of our ailing oceans.
Who has not loved and lost? “We are all Rudolpho and we are all Mimi” is the last line of the film. It emphasizes that every living thing on the planet is linked to each other and we are in essence a large living and breathing cell floating in space.
How does the embodiment / personification of microscopic-forms in your short film, “La Boheme a Portrait of Today’s Oceans in Peril”, convey the message about climate change and endangered/polluted oceans?
Our existence and that of the microscopic world is completely intertwined especially in the case of plankton found throughout water bodies worldwide which creates at least 40% of the worlds oxygen, sequesters carbon dioxide on the ocean floor its the calcium carbonate skeletons not to mention being the basic building block of the ocean’s food chain. In essence, we depend on this exquisitely beautiful microscopic world to regulate our atmosphere without plankton we could not exist.
The impetus for making “La Bohème: A Portrait of Our Ocean’s in Peril” came from the total heartbreak I found while looking at microscopic oceanic plankton I collected from around the world and finding microscopic strands of degraded plastic in all of my samples no matter how remote and seemingly pristine the waters were, and this was just the anthropogenic pollution visible to me through the microscope!
I wanted the viewers to be able to experience on a human scale this tragedy I saw unfolding before through the lens of the microscope.
What better way to do this than through depicting romantic heartbreak? So I chose the opera “La Bohème” by Puccini set in the 1840’s Paris in which the protagonist Mimi dies of consumption as her lover Rudolfo looks on helplessly… Mimi in this case is a sculpture of beloved plankton Tintinnid Plankton, I captured as an ‘Artist in Residence’ with Tara Expeditions off the Coast of Chile, entwined with toxic plastic and composed of hand blown uranium infused glass which fluoresces under a black light while her the charming poet Rudolph is human.
Of course, there is the surreal aspect of a grown man singing operatic arias to a giant plankton sculpture ensnared in micro degraded plastic, which creates an absurdist atmosphere to this “tale of interspecies love” which is simultaneously humorous and dark.
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