editor’s note Putting this issue together has been an overwhelming but entirely joyful process. I'm speechless at the level of participation this year and I'm so grateful to the contributors for trusting me with their beautiful works and to the people I interviewed for being part of this humble zine. Thank you all from the bottom of my very full heart. I first came up with the idea for this issue's paradisal theme when I was revisiting a favourite book, This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It's a coming-of-age story about a Princeton-bound boy named Amory Blaine, who tries to live up to his idea of himself as he gets older. His looks, intellect and literary sensibilities are on a pedestal but through encounters and relationships with several young women, each with their own set of old school charms, the illusion shatters. In the end, he ultimately and famously cries, "I know myself... but that is all." There's so much within each of us that I think sometimes we have moments when we don't know exactly who we are. With a new day, we change and grow and learn to recognize a new part of ourselves. And when we do have a moment of clarity, well, for me it's like floating effortlessly in an emerald pool. Paradise is a luxurious, subjective, and often ethereal concept. I talked to two artists whose work makes me question the makings of paradise and how differently we perceive it. Ani Liu (page 8), a phenomenal tech artist, created an installation setting real nature side by side with its simulation, inviting viewers to determine what was real or not in terms of what they were experiencing within and without their bodies. Another kind of dynamicism I found through Jason deCaires Taylor (page 38), known for his brilliant underwater sculptures and museums, where the experience of seeing his sculptures in person changes with the ocean. And his work led me to the science side of this issue. I knew immediately that this was my opportunity to dive into the topic of coral degradation and restoration. Wrecked from overfishing and tourism, sick from disease and pollution, and bleached from global warming and ocean acidification, the outlook on coral survival is bleak. But beside the headlines screaming expiry years are also a stack of refreshing information about the people conserving coral and the various ways they're restoring them. Jason's sculptures give coral new surfaces to grow on; Coral Gardeners, founded by Titouan Bernicot (page 25), are planting adopted corals that can resist the effects of warmer waters and educating people all over the world; The Ocean Agency, founded by Richard Vevers (page 52), launched an art campaign, based on what they discovered while filming Chasing Coral, to heighten awareness; and SECORE International's Dirk Petersen (page 60) and Anastazia Banaszak (page 64) are working to mass-rear genetically unique coral on a scale never seen before. (Incidentally, the three organizations I talked to have been cross-engaging on social media lately, with SECORE participating in The Ocean Agency's Glowing Glowing Gone campaign and the athletes of the World Surf League, who wore jerseys designed in collaboration with Glowing Glowing Gone at Tahiti Pro, also restoring reefs with the Coral Gardeners.) When I watched the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, I loved the idea of the pearlescent alien stowaways adapting limitlessly to recreate their destroyed paradise with advanced technology. However, even if it were possible, I've learned not to rely on what the future might hold. Like us, the world has its moments where paradise is not such a slippery thought. But it's not enough to dream about it anymore. Sometimes we have to save it. KVW
IF HEAVEN DOES EXIST then I will not be in cold flesh and barefoot, stepping engulfing soil, of pale inundated flakes, watching angels dripping blood on their lips, hands and legs; dented Bentley and Lamborghini; segregated parts – display at the Garden of Longevity. I was in the queue to see you for the last time on handcuffs of faux polka-dots fur, strip naked, forced to wear a bright red cloak – fits my honeyed skin knights in unicorn mask punishing mortal carnivores. Hush! My name wasn’t even on the visiting list, a hunchback said I don’t belong here, stealing photos we’ve taken from the cruel earth, in exchange of my soul. Flowers in masculine names, starlight whispering auras of Plath, Cobain, Bennington & Mercury. I found you seated among the Twelve Disciples, You said I should leave now. God said I’m being loved by Yin-Yang souls. God recruits Purgatory’s angels, to anoint my razor brainy tongue, untouched wounds to be healed when Paradise becomes an ideology longing for a simple worldly recognition.
UNSCRIPTED PRAYER My heart shall not end in the paradigm of people misunderstood me, yet borrowing words to prove they’re able to move in the placenta of oleander and forsythia. I allow them to grow feathers, implanting tattooed faces like old wives’ tale. There – isn’t a sign to warn you. I love getting high by the tide, thinking of my hair is darker and tangling than any omnipresent women you’ve met. Curtain’s vibrating a twilight beam, we touch with open doors. Nobody, no one is allowed to judge. We should talk to god in capital letters, to safeguard this ceremonial wildfire.
ANI LIU interview by KVW images courtesy of Ani Liu
Ani Liu is a research-based artist working with science and technology to create compelling sensory experiences. She has cultured microbes from kisses, controlled sperm with her mind, simulated being in another person's shoes, and even bottled people's scents. Her ongoing installation, Biophilic Fantasies â&#x20AC;&#x201D; running from May to November 2019 at MOD. in Adelaide, South Australia, as part of their Hedonism exhibition â&#x20AC;&#x201D; "explores the relationship between the human desire to connect with nature (due to our evolutionary roots from nature), and the forces that cause us to simulate it (economic, environmental scarcity, urbanism, etc.)". By blending elements of real and simulated nature, Ani poses questions about our biological perception of similar stimuli, the distinctions between the real thing and its imitation, our individual interactions with nature shaped by different lifestyles, and the very nature of nature. A Princeton Arts Fellow for 2019-2021 with features in National Geographic, The Cut, and Mashable, to name a few, Ani continues to experiment with technology and art, pushing back the horizon of how we contemplate the world and our place in it. 8
How would you describe a walk through your latest project, Biophilic Fantasies at MOD.? Is there a trick to spotting what’s real and what’s not? For the piece at MOD I was exploring concepts of biophilia — the idea that we as humans are evolved from animal roots, therefore we have deeply ingrained preferences for certain stimuli that remind us of our original habitats. As I did the research, I became interested in ways we try to negotiate these needs and preferences with modern day life — for instance, while most office workers spend their days in environments that have very consistent climate controlled HVAC systems that blow air at consistent rates, we actually prefer non-rhythmic sensory stimulation, such as that of a breeze. Instead of office cubicles with a monotonous tone of color, we prefer environments that are more varied, such as what you would encounter on a verdant hike. I found it interesting that a lot of the suggestions I came across involved fooling our bodies to believe we were back in “nature” while we were not — through leafy wall papers, sun lamps, fountains, etc. When I was designing this piece, I wanted the viewer to reap all the good feelings of a biophilic
space — to receive the kind of happy buzz you might get after a good walk in the woods. At the same time, I did not want to shy away from the artificiality of the attempt — the whole experience was placed in a grid, the outlets and wiring were all exposed. The goal was to raise questions in the viewer — to get them to investigate both what was “real” and what was “simulated”. As I continued to research the project, these boundaries began to blur for me — for instance, if a sun lamp can cause my brain to produce the same amount of serotonin and vitamin D as being in the sun for a certain length of time, is there still a distinction between the two? If the simulation is identical to my perception neurologically, is the distinction meaningful? As we continue to negotiate our relationships with nature, how do we redefine what is considered “natural”?
* How did you make fake plants emulate real ones? Considering your olfactory work, were volatiles involved? To conflate the “real” and “simulated” experiences as much as possible, I aimed to design a space for all of the senses; smell is particularly import-
ant to me, so there was definitely a big olfactory component. In addition to the many plants, both living and not, there were a variety of grass smells, sounds of water, rain, thunder, waves, as well as fans that would create breezes and movement in the plants.
* You told Core77 that you "think one of the powerful aspects of art is that it allows you to feel a new reality.â&#x20AC;? If Biophilic Fantasies were to be prophetic of our future world, would you consider it utopic (where the image and experience of nature are conserved) or dystopic (where real nature may be considered expendable if we have the tools to artificially replace it)? I never thought of the installation as either utopian or dystopian; I think that depends on where you are coming from. It might be differ10
ent for a botanist, farmer, a geneticist, a lumberjack, a banker or an astronaut. I wanted to provide a backdrop to ask questions, to create a place for a variety of people to contemplate their own relationships to nature.
* What is your paradise? Paradise is honestly a tough concept for me; I think the closest thing might be to spend a day without the usual anxiety and mental demons I live with.
* What future biophilic inventions would you create to conserve your paradise? I try to meditate every day. Occasionally I am able to arrive at a mental state that is very clear
and calm. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been very interested in mindfulness and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to change our relationship to the environment, despite the environment remaining the same.
* Why is it important for you to combine nature with art, design and technology in these ways? The impacts of climate change have been urgently and often on my mind. Addressing many of the issues will combine all of the above â&#x20AC;&#x201D; technology, nature, and culture. A lot of norms and behaviors will have to radically change, along with plenty of research and innovation. Our relationship to our environment needs to be critically re-evaluated, and I think some of this work came out of these underlying anxieties.
ani-liu.com | @ani.liu.studio
Four Seasons of Longing and Uncertainty and Love and Dreams FALL After the frosty peaks of the Coquihalla we drove into the rains lashing the valley. Cars and trucks vanished like ghosts in the gloom. On the drive I learned that she adored Nat King Cole and laughed at my Chinese jazz songs. In the uproar over the American elections, I kept forgetting that Leonard Cohen was dead. Our conversations circled around life in the city. I was happy and the city was starting to open doors which would close one by one over the next two years. Those doors had already started closing on her in a vicious cycle of breaking hopes. Her complications were couched in bureaucratic language and requirements. For that reason I don’t think we experienced the woods in the same way. A few months later we parted ways when I slammed her car door on my way to Pacific Central. In hindsight I should have seen the end coming. The entire camping trip, with its arguments and my haplessness, was a microcosm of our eroding friendship. It was just one of many collapses.
WINTER He fiddled with the small propane stove beside the frozen lake, not far from the glaciers, blue and grey in the early sunset. Bitter katabatic winds swept the shores. Glaciers forced masses of cold air downhill, reminding us how helpless we were. The water refused to boil. It simply froze over and we laughed and hurried away as fast as we could. His trips pulled me from the orbit of my comfort zone, but they were always just temporary escapes from the city. He would slowly open up about the pressures of home much later. But that evening we wandered back in the clear light of the moon, slowly warming up again, our hands much less frigid. On the drive back, we listened to a song that he found in a CD from a shop in Hong Kong, a few days after spontaneously deciding to hike Mount Fuji. Yoshiko Sai’s Haru. Spring. I did not understand the words, and neither did he, but there was something strangely soothing and sad about Yoshiko’s voice.
SPRING We were from the colonies and went to university together. That was where our similarities ended. Otherwise we were two very different people who finally decided to give a relationship a try. Our differences manifested themselves on the arid slopes high above the lake. Dry dust coated our skin, our clothes. The Okanagan sunflowers were already gone so late in the season. She wanted a rest from the relentless hiking but I was quite determined to check off another achievement. Back in town later that day, as a cool evening set in over the dusty streets, she reminded me of how her time in the city was running out. Leave with me, she suggested constantly. I was not ready to think about it. Nightwish took over on the speakers on the drive. Strange how when it was all over, neither that vacation nor how we danced on the deck of the ferry as it nosed its way through the Strait of Georgia featured much in my memories.
SUMMER He lined up an impressive list of hikes, perhaps partly because I made up my mind to leave. We would cross the Continental Divide and from there we would traverse the Icefields Parkway and into the buckled, tortured landscape of the deep interior. We passed the wreckage of a burnt trailer, traffic reduced to a crawl for miles. We wondered if anyone died. There was no real paradise in the mountainsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;stories of railway accidents and abandoned hotels filled the drive. Choking wildfires shrouded everything west of the Rockies in grey film. And on the Parkway, buffeted by katabatic winds, glaciers continue to recede even atop the world. Their remains emptied out in the far north, into the thawing Arctic Ocean while we drove south to strains of Meat Loaf. He sang idly of living the life of a wanderer. A life on the road. I fancied myself as the Sal to his Moriarty. The problem was that the city had a habit of locking us into place with half-hearted promises or forcing us to leave. For then, we occupied two separate ends of a spectrum.
CORAL GARDENERS: TITOUAN BERNICOT
interview by KVW images courtesy of Coral Gardeners special thanks to Laura and Megan
In the gleaming ocean waters of French Polynesia, you may see tiger sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, and people planting corals. They call themselves Coral Gardeners, and they're on an earnest mission to change the world one coral at a time. Founded by Titouan Bernicot, the son of two pearl farmers with the ocean as his front lawn and backyard, Coral Gardeners is a nonprofit organization that plants corals people can adopt online. These coral fragments are fixed to bamboo stems and the team in the water transplant them onto a reef from the nursery table once they have sufficiently grown. Visitors to Mo'orea can also become part of the process by joining them in an ecotour. Titouan and his friends witnessed the marine ecosystem change before their very eyes and they set in motion a way to ameliorate its decline. Educating people all over the world on the importance of coral reefs, these self-described island kids are making a sea change.
In an ecotour, you take people into the water to plant corals with you. Could you describe what thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like? The ecotours started because more and more people were asking us how they would help us save the reef when they were coming to Mo'orea. So we decided to launch this unique movement where people can come at our headquarters and help us save the reef. The ecotour last[s] for 3 hours, with 45 minutes of lecture about coral reefs and about our story. After that, they go in the water with our team members and they help us do our work: they do coral cuttings, they see the nursery tables, choose their favorite coral and plant it back onto the reef. The ecotour costs 40 euros per person and that money goes directly into supporting our project. The ecotours are a great way to spend good time in the water with the local surfer and fishermen kids that we are, and it's just an awesome way of doing something meaningful, to make a difference. We want people to feel good about themselves and the planet.
Why is it important to offer this kind of experience to tourists? It's not only important for tourists, it's important for us too. It allows us to reconnect with our culture, family stories... We have to go and see our grandparents and ask them about our amazing family stories, about our family symbols, about the local legends. But as for the tourists, it allows them to leave a great footprint while being in French Polynesia. We are hopeful for the future of the tourism.
* Am I correct in saying you choose to replant certain corals that are more robust against climate change? If so, what characteristics of these corals make them so? The coral reef restoration program only focuses on certain types of genuses of corals. We focus on the ones that are more resistant to climate change. Those are the ones that have a lower mortality rate or don't bleach as much, that can adapt themselves. In the future, it is obvious that we are going to have a loss of biodiversity but some species of coral may be able to adapt. That's what we hope for anyway.
* On National Geographic, you mentioned that French Polynesia has â&#x20AC;&#x153;some of the most preserved reef-ecosystems in the worldâ&#x20AC;?. What are some of the ways surviving corals are being protected? Indeed, French Polynesia is so remote that it is easy to have one of the most preserved reef-ecosystems in the world. One of the ways in which surviving corals is being protected is by protecting some varieties of herbivorous fish that we have. Thanks to those fish, we have less algae that colonize the dead coral substrats. Coral larvaes can attach and develop on those reef substrats. In some other oceans or seas such as the Caribbean, those herbivorous fish are overfished 26
and so they have too much bad algae in their waters, and the corals are facing big issues. The main way we protect the surviving corals is by raising awareness to schools, to the local population and to the tourists.
* What is your paradise? In Mo'orea, we meet so many people coming from different horizons. All of them tell us that we are living in paradise. For me, paradise is a place where I can feel, rest, learn, find myself. A paradise is like a reef. It's a place where species live in harmony, depend on each other and where humans are only one part of that reef. French Polynesia is a good example of a paradise: preserved nature, ocean, welcoming people, pure, kind, all the species coexist. The importance is to keep this paradise untouched by changing the world. And changing the world can be difficult, but everything starts with one coral planted. Save the reef, save the ocean, save the world.
How do you convince people that nowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the time to act on coral conservation? There are simple ways to convince people that if we don't act now, it's going to be too late. One of them is to show pictures and videos. I show people a video of a coral garden I had in front of my house a few years ago, and then I show them the same reef now. And that's enough to convince people that it's time to act now on coral conservation. Another way is to make them realize how important coral reefs are because people do not know. We make them realise.
coralgardeners.org | @coralgardeners
CASE NUMBER 1 there’s death in the room, an overbearing sadness, looming, thick air, not the kind we’d hoped for with wide eyes, awake for days, we’d speak of Frankl, and contemplate the madness of Van Gogh you said there was a striking resemblance, an uncertain insanity drawing to those dark eyes. We laughed, we cried, you told me of your nightmares, Loud noises were never your cup of tea. Here I sit, with death in the room, this thick air, it’s a delusion.
UNTITLED entering a moment of reflection; ponder. listen to the time, inside the mind, how fruitful are your berries, are you ripened or sick with poison, are your leaves veins filled with love, or lust did you ever know the difference? calibrate yourself, a moment to ponder, is balance what you seek? have you not yet found within yourself, what you’d wish to find in another? is your ego quantifiable? do you measure success through another man's breath? where began that lonely feeling? itemize, cut, copy; space, just enough, that perfect amount, somewhere between brian eno and I can’t remember your name, but your face is so familiar I swear, once before, we’ve met... but maybe it was a dream equalize, something about balance maybe infrequent, but I'd rather be flowing in four-forty two any day. I wish to resonate; thoughts, imagination, inquisition, if only we’d move on from four-thirty two. where do you sit, do you feel empowered today? remember your faults, remember your friends, remember in love.
sometimes the world is so beautiful it’s hard to bear; the but I’ve never seen a sunrise bright as hers. take me there, I was never really afraid of the dark, it seems rather comforting, quiet, and old friend, I’ll be here. events, cognition sensation emotion, how do you feel today? have you yet learned, like a child who will soon forget, tears are only but a minute long... my love won’t mind are you proud? are you willing, and able, will you teach your lessons, will you share your ideas? leave space for the mice, the quiet lovers, for their words are as important as yours. proud doesn’t yell, its quiet confidence is as captivating as the glow you so wish to breathe. belittle your ego, open your eyes, and feel the growth. remembering balance, watching the snow, the frost on my skin, how sweet will your sun feel are you prepared? piña coladas will fuel your evening swim, enjoy the cold today, feel life thrust upon you, this moment is fleeting, remembering now.
sheer magnitude, the alpenglow, the brisk morning air, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing like the mountains
In my paradise Borders don't keep people out Safety is for all
In my paradise Equity is all around Empathy informs
In my paradise Violence is unthinkable Unlike abortion
In my paradise Governments use “housing first” Everyone belongs
In my paradise Women lead us everywhere Respected by all
In my paradise We don't need to fight to prove We are human too
In my paradise Guaranteed Basic Income Raises all of us
In my paradise People of colour are seen Loved, good, whole, equal
In my paradise Kindness is in our systems We're here together
In my paradise Arts and culture get respect Pay, not “exposure”
In my paradise A woman's body is hers There is no question
In my paradise Politicians listen well Tell them what you need
In my paradise Free education for all Become your best self
In my paradise Birth is not confinement to Only one gender
In my paradise Our eyes and teeth get healthcare And our minds do too
In my paradise Attraction to same-sex peers Is love, nothing less
In my paradise Policies based on science Give us good results
In my paradise Unseen disabilities Don't mean exclusion
In my paradise No money in politics Laws serve the people
In my paradise People in wheelchairs matter Built form for all folks
In my paradise Law and justice are the same End the police state
In my paradise Protected environment Nurtures everyone
In my paradise Medicine and policing Have no overlap
In my paradise Canada in harmony Respect the treaties
In my paradise Sex ed is based on science Consent culture now
In my paradise No genocide deniers Take home on this land
In my paradise No men interrupt to say “But it's not all men”
In my paradise Newsmedia gets the facts No more false “debate” 37
JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR interview by KVW images courtesy of Jason deCaires Taylor
The work of sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has left a significant impression on the world, literally, with many of his sculptures residing on the bottom of the sea. Made with pH neutral marine grade cement, they form artificial reefs, with new life growing on their rough surfaces. He created the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first underwater sculpture park in the Caribbean sea off the west coast of Grenada, recognised by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World. Its successor museums and installations are submerged between Cancun and Isla Mujeres in Mexico; in Lanzarote, Spain; in the River Thames in London; and in the Bahamas.
Cast from real people in various positions to carry social commentary, his sculptures and the environment they're in encourage the comprehension of our ocean's health and, as an environmentalist, Jason reminds us that some things don't need an alternative; rather, we should work to conserve them.
How would you describe a dive through one of your underwater museums or sculpture parks? It really depends. Each dive is very very different in nature. So much depends on the weather, the time of day, the visibility, the type of environment it is. I’ve tried to work in different places so diving in one of the Caribbean museums is a very different experience than visiting one of the colder water sites. The first thing I’d say is it's certainly very changeable — the atmosphere, the relationship to the works, many things are very dynamic and different. Sometimes you can go into a clearer water site and it’s almost euphoric. You’re floating, you have these incredible shafts of light coming through the sea surface. You have the works sort of dappled in a matrix of light rays. And you can go on another day and it’ll be overcast and the water’ll be very turbid and it's difficult to see much further than a few metres. The works are completely different, they appear out of the mist. You come across them very suddenly and they feel a lot more abstract. It’s like trying to grasp hold of memories or something — you cannot quite get a clear picture and I think your brain fills in the missing pieces. They’re very changeable, it really is a different experience.
It’s opposite a white-walled gallery, where it’s exactly the same every time you go and see it. This is a very dynamic space.
* You made the first underwater sculpture park in 2006 and there have been two global coral bleaching events since then. Do you know if the corals on your sculptures have been affected? The only main ones I’ve seen were in Cancún where we planted a lot of coral and I think in 2009 there was a very very hot summer and I think around 30% of the corals bleached, so it definitely has affected them. Saying that, I don’t always plant hard corals. A lot of the corals are soft corals or sponges or tunicates, lots of different types of marine organisms, and they fared pretty well to the changes in temperatures.
* So you do plant them right onto the sculptures? Sometimes you do, yeah. In some cases.
You also make metal coral sculptures. Why use metals like blue sulphate to create them? Is it important for you to also bring awareness of corals to an audience on land? Yes, yes certainly. I like people to collect some of my work and obviously I don’t want to extract anything living from the sea or damage anything that’s naturally growing, so I kind of try to artificially recreate the process in the studio. But obviously instead of calcium forming to produce corals, I use copper and once I take it out of the solution, it’s very stable and it doesn’t change or degrade. I can control it a little bit.
* Do you think it’s possible that sometime in the future when we have more advanced underwater technology, your sculptures could not only encourage life on their surfaces, but also somehow sustain them in warmer waters and become a sort of ecosystem haven? Possibly. To be honest I’ve never really seen any sort of technological fixes for oceans. We basically just have to stop producing CO2. I use my works more to raise awareness about what is happening and try to talk about our relationship but I don’t see them as a substitute for growing new reefs. Nature does a very good job of that but we have to provide the conditions for them to thrive. One of the major things is ocean acidification and CO2 levels driving temperature warming and that is having a catastrophic effect. It’ll be much better for us to pool our resources into trying to move away from fossil fuels than trying to invent any technology that'll grow corals underwater.
What is your paradise? I don’t know... I just like exploring new places. For me, a paradise is where there's no tourists (laughs). Exploring new areas or exploring new underwater sites. For me, it’s that process of discovery and excitement that makes it paradise.
* On your Wikipedia page, it says in 2017, you started scoping for the Australian Museum of Underwater Art by the Great Barrier Reef? What ideas do you have for an underwater museum that could draw tourists away from the biggest coral reef in the world? We’re currently doing that project [at] the moment. We're building a big sort of botanical garden with a greenhouse and lots of coral nurseries and trees. Lots of people gardening. There, the issues are very different. It’s the greatest, largest reef in the world. It’s not so much a case of trying to draw people away from it because it’s a very small percentage of the surface area people actually visit cause it’s so vast. Tourists don’t have a phenomenal impact. Again, the problem is much more about rising sea temperatures. A lot of the focus is trying to tell the story of how vital the great barrier reef is to tourism, to the economy, to the future of Australia, and trying to use that to create maybe a social and political response.
EVIDENCE OF THE INVISIBLE Our root system Our connection to the physical and quantum world is Infinitesimal, particulate, and alive. We carry within us a whole universe Unique to ourselves. A universe entirely crucial to every moment Metabolizing, communicating, evolving. I hope you see how unique and crucial you are â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Both the keystone and the force Of Everything. And the mud clay and dust moulded by these invisible microbial beings. When humans have long vanished they will whisper our stories through bits of DNA Of giants who roamed the Earth, Who were so powerful Their breath set the world on fire.
Capsule I woke up to an orchestra of snoring old men. If it were deathly quiet, I would have made comparisons to waking up in a lonely spaceship on a thousand-year voyage to a distant galaxy, hoping to find terraformable worlds. Unfortunately, I was in a capsule hotel near Kabukicho. The price point was perfect for Bapak to place me here to await my final courier. Walking towards the washrooms, the extremely sanitized hotel matched the description of being locked away in a spacecraft. The sleeping pods were spacious enough to fit a human being and nothing else. The more claustrophobic guests seemed to tap out after one night. I subsisted on Family Mart ready-made meals, sometimes switching it up with 7-Eleven or Yoshinoya. For the rest of my downtime, I devoured Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle. If there were a place and time to tackle a voyeuristic journey towards every detail of some privileged Norwegian’s life, it was here and now. I accessed my locker with my keycard and checked if Bapak left some messages. My burner had nothing. If keeping a low profile wasn’t a priority, I would’ve done more sightseeing. Bapak requested I hunker down until he gave his orders. Sometimes I wonder if I remained a supervisor at the corner store back in East Van, I wouldn’t have to deal with the endless waiting and concentrated amounts of stress. If the job market actually had more variety for my useless degree, I wouldn’t be justifying this choice. I returned to my pod and stared at the white ceiling hoping for the void to take me into a deep slumber. * He was about twice my age, probably in his mid-seventies, wore a pinstripe suit with a matching fedora, drinking a bottle of Midori in the common room. The old man was short and lanky and had a striking resemblance to Leonard Cohen. At his age, his leathery skin and countless wrinkles made everyone who wore a pinstripe suit and fedora more or less resemble Lenny. I decided I was going to name the old man ‘Lenny’ because I wasn’t going to introduce myself. My Japanese was terrible and I didn’t like old people much, though my most recent ex was sixteen years my senior. I chewed on some grape gummies. Bapak finally messaged me around lunchtime when I stepped out for a smoke. I had to pick up the pills from a video store nearby before the day ended. One more easy job and then I could return to Bali and blow this ramen stand. I had half an hour to kill and I chose to spend my time watching Lenny slowly drain his melon liqueur. Lenny turned to face me and smirked. He waved me over and motioned to sit next to him. I turned around to check the vicinity of the common room and found a middle aged woman watching her Korean drama on her laptop, three European backpackers planning their night, and another single man scarfing down his bento. It appeared that the gentleman beckoned to me. I reluctantly rose from my seat and walked opposite to Lenny and sat. He poured me a shot of Midori inside a paper shot cup and slid it towards me. The saccharine syrup blended well with my grape gummies and seemed to be the perfect pair— like rum with cola or gin with tonic. 45
“Bring an umbrella later,” Lenny said. His voice was raspy, just like when the real Lenny belted A Thousand Kisses Deep. Years of smoking his Mevius or Seven Stars or whatever he smoked. I was glad I cut back on kretek, didn’t want to end up with a voice that raspy. I offered him a gummy and Lenny declined. His smirk permanently plastered on his face. “Weather report said it’s going to be sunny.” I was glad Bapak sent me to Tokyo at the end of September. They had a heat wave during July and while I wanted to experience a summer matsuri firsthand, I would give up hanabi for teru teru bozu any day of the year. “You can’t rely on technology too much,” Lenny said. “The longer you live, the more connected you become to the earth.” I checked my burner. The hourly forecast showed sunny skies. Lenny was a crazy old coot. I finished the shot of Midori and passed the paper shot cup back to him. I realized we were conversing in Tagalog. I got so caught up with disagreeing with him, I just realized he was Filipino. “Tatang,” I said. “You visit Japan often?” “Depends,” Lenny said. “I walked away from a dangerous job long ago, because of that, I was able to see more years and travel. Anyway, if you don’t want to listen to me, visit the pet store, the old man there will lend you an umbrella.” With that, he poured himself another shot. I ascended from my chair and reached into my bag of gummies. I was all out. * Returning to the capsule hotel later that night, I had a six-pack of Asahi pilsner, take-out hatogu, and leftovers from a Korean fried chicken place. I surveyed the common room. Aside from a few drunken European backpackers and the random salaryman having a late dinner, the lounge was relatively empty. Lenny was nowhere in sight. I had a beer and bit on the excessively cheesy dough on a stick. I had an easy but eventful day. Throughout this gig, I had myself a number of close calls, but it became more or less routine. Of all the video stores in Japan, they sent me to camouflaged sex shop where four of the five floors were pornographic. I had to travel to the top floor where I had to locate Hatano, the supervisor. I was to ask him for a video, Cougar Party, as a signal for my pick up. Each floor that I climbed became significantly profane. The menagerie of smut, variations of breasts, pixelated genitals, different acts of fellatio, shrieks of high-pitched simulated orgasms, the gamut of male sex toys, assortment of lube flavours, used panties, and posters upon posters of nubile beauties became a singular unit after awhile. When I reached the top, the titillation transformed into disgust. I became desensitized to the sexual bombardment and my frustration to find the supervisor grew. I enjoyed the sexual act just like any other person, but this was beyond healthy. At the fifth floor of this temple of filth, while searching for the said supervisor, I came across some vacuum-sealed used bloomers being hawked at $60 per package. My mind raced beyond the boundary of what was reasonable and I found myself vomiting inside the store’s restroom. I regurgitated what little I had inside my stomach: vodka, Midori liqueur, and grape gummies. I took a wet tissue from my pocket and sanitized my hands. I did not look forward to spending another hour in this endless spiral and I eventually found Hatano where I made the pick up. At the corner of Shinjuku en route back to Shin Okubo, drops of rain drizzled in between nameless love hotels. I glanced up in the horizon and the sudden overcast sky replaced the earlier sunny azure. The drizzle escalated to a downpour within seconds and I found myself taking refuge underneath a cafe at a nearby residential area. When I turned to check the cafe and decided to buy a cup of coffee while waiting
for the rain to die down, I realized that the cafe was a pet store. The old man at the counter saw me taking refuge, bowed, and turned away. Moments later, he approached me with a dollar store umbrella and goaded me to take it and leave. At that moment, I realized Lenny’s wisdom. In the torrential downpour, I thought about the words he imparted. A part of me was in awe and the other part highly skeptical. I wanted to rush back to the capsule hotel and demand how he foresaw this outcome when reliable technology said otherwise. Shin Okubo was a haven for Koreans and other immigrants. Earlier that day, foot traffic was packed. BTS pop-up stores sandwiched between Korean barbecues and convenience stores filled the ward. Bapak chose a public holiday to send me as a courier. I guessed that on a normal work day, I would stand out. On my fifth beer, Lenny appeared once more. He didn’t bring a bottle of liquor but pointed at my plastic bag with beer. I handed him a can. “I’m partial to San Miguel, but free beer is free beer.” He slurped his beer and plopped down on the seat. Donned in his pinstripe outfit, his voice still raspy, his carefree and relaxed self continued to bewilder. “How did you know it was going to rain?” He shrugged. “I just know. Let’s just say, the earth told me.” “The earth?” “Yes, the ground, the core, what connects you and me, the earth.” He must be high on something. I took a sip of my beer. “What’s the forecast tomorrow? Cloudy with a chance of fish?” The old man cackled. “Wouldn’t that be something? I’d like for it to rain bluefin. I’ll snag a couple and then buy me a kaiseki dinner.” “Why not just cook it?” “I lack the skill. It’s a waste of good maguro.” We drank our beers in silence. “You said you quit a dangerous job long ago?” “Ah yes.” He finished his beer. “I was a smuggler once,” Lenny said. “Lost a few fingers.” He removed his glove to reveal his left hand missing the top joints of his little and ring finger. “On my last job, I was en route to Bangkok. But in the last moment, I took another flight to Phuket, worked the docks a few years then got me a cheap plane ticket to Madrid and lived there a good decade.” “Your boss ever send somebody to finish the job?” “I’m still here, ain’t I?” I finished my beer. “You make leaving this life seem easy.” “There’s always a choice.” He got up from his chair. “Thanks for the beer.” “Right now, my only choice is to do or die.” Lenny cackled.
“I never said the choice was easy.” He waved and turned the corner. I thought about what the strange old man said. I never questioned why a random septuagenarian Filipino ex-smuggler spent their time at a capsule hotel in Tokyo this late at night. I just accepted it. I took one last bite of the hatogu. Dreamless sleep and the sound of my neighbours’ snoring awaited. * I opened my locker for the last time and took my duffel bag with my belongings. I left Knausgård’s saga behind, it would only add weight. What a charmed life that guy had, escaping to Sweden on a whim because he his marriage exhausted him. This line of work, leaving it without the proper protocol had dire consequences. It wasn’t a part-time job I could just resign from on a whim. I had my plane ticket printed at the lobby and I noticed that my flight had a layover in Bangkok before Bali, my final destination. I checked my burner and found out the direct flight originally booked was cancelled. Was the earth trying to tell me something? I switched off my burner and broke it in half. I thought about Lenny’s life, how he didn’t continue with his trip to Bangkok and ended up not flying to his death. I wished I had the same luxury as Lenny. Though maybe it was his curse for living this long, to repeat the same story ad infinitum. Right now, I was too busy following a path someone paved for me. Maybe it was time to follow my own.
THE OCEAN AGENCY: RICHARD VEVERS interview by KVW images courtesy of The Ocean Agency special thanks to Melissa and Stephanie
Corals are bleaching worldwide — it's a fact that people know about but rarely see. Two years ago, a documentary came out on Netflix that showed us the first timelapse of coral losing their vibrant colours, turning ghostly white and finally being overtaken by algae. Suffice it to say it wasn't a pretty picture. But that's not all Chasing Coral recorded. Chasing Coral follows the founder and CEO of The Ocean Agency, Richard Vevers, an ocean conservationist with an advertising background, and his team. They wanted to show the world what was happening to coral. The resulting footage captured a phenomenon likely unexpected by general viewers. Corals were fluorescing brightly in purple, yellow and blue just under the sea surface — the result of pigments acting as a sunscreen, a last resort. Earlier this year, The Ocean Agency launched the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign, inviting artists to create work using three custom colour tones developed in collaboration with Adobe Stock and Pantone: Glowing Purple, Glowing Yellow, and Glowing Blue. They received tons of stunning submissions — some have even lit up Times Square — and they're amplifying the call for action to save coral reefs before they're gone.
How did the collaboration with Adobe Stock and the Pantone Color Institute develop? In the fall of 2018, The Ocean Agency started developing the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign. Shortly after, we got word that Pantone was announcing “Living Coral” as the 2019 Color of the Year, and we knew it would be a perfect partnership. So we reached out and were able to start collaborating on creating the colors for the campaign. Adobe Stock has been a great partner of The Ocean Agency for quite some time, as we regularly contribute our imagery to the Stock library. It made perfect sense to collaborate with Adobe Stock and be able to challenge the creative community to get involved.
* Why did the challenge call for art created with Glowing Yellow, Glowing Blue and Glowing Purple? Why combine art and conservation in this way? The campaign highlights the phenomenon of coral fluorescing. It’s one of the most disturbing-
ly beautiful sights in nature, yet it goes largely unnoticed underwater. The bright colors of coral fluorescing presented an opportunity to get the world’s attention about the crisis facing coral reefs. Working with Pantone and Adobe Stock, we wanted to tap into the massively talented worldwide community of creatives to help us spread the word to new audiences who might not already know about conservation issues such as coral reef decline. The more eye-catching art and designs we can share, the more people we can get to notice what’s going on and urge for action.
How long does coral fluorescence typically last? What can we do to reverse it? Corals sometimes fluoresce when they get too hot for too long as part of a process known as bleaching. The bright colours come from a chemical sunscreen that some corals produce in a desperate bid to survive. The fluorescing can last a few days or weeks. And while itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not necessarily a certain death-sentence for the reef, most corals do die at the end of the process. The only way the process can be reversed while itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s happening is if water temperatures lower to levels that are cool enough for the corals to survive. This can sometimes be just a few tenths of a degree, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still somewhat rare that the water cools enough in time to save the corals. Reefs can recover after a bleaching event, but it can take many years.
* What is your paradise? My paradise is underwater, diving in locations that are still healthy, such as the far north of the Great Barrier Reef or Raja Ampat in Indonesia. There are plenty of locations that are naturally less vulnerable to climate change which are still in amazing condition. By concentrating our conservation efforts in these locations paradise can still be saved. 54
Considerable strides have been made in regrowing and replanting coral around the world. During the filming of Chasing Coral, when you saw a time-lapse of a coral disintegrating into an algae-blanketed mess or astoundingly vibrant, fluorescent coral from a height above water, did you expect that such advocacy and reef restoration was possible? The world is really waking up to the crisis facing coral reefs and we have been very encouraged by the interest in our Glowing Glowing Gone campaign and the growing support for action. We have also recently seen amazing success with
reef restoration initiatives that we couldn’t have even imagined a couple of years ago while filming Chasing Coral. We’ve just returned from an expedition to record restored reefs in Indonesia. These reefs had been dead for 30 years and have been brought back to life in just 3 years and were some of the healthiest looking reefs we have ever seen. It really was a miraculous transformation that provides real hope for the future.
* What’s next for The Ocean Agency? Will the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign evolve somehow? Glowing Glowing Gone is a long-term campaign, so it will be consistently growing and evolving. Phase I is all about getting the creative community involved to help raise awareness of the coral reef crisis. We can’t reveal too much at
this point, but the next phases will be aimed at getting influencers and brands involved to rally support for climate and conservation action especially around key decision-making events in 2020. The Ocean Agency, will be working on several other exciting projects too, rolling out in the second half of the year (again, can’t give too much away!). Follow along with us @theoceanagency on Instagram, @Ocean_Agency on Twitter, and @TheOcean.Agcy on Facebook.
theoceanagency.org @theoceanagency www.glowing.org @glowinggone chasingcoral.com @chasingcoral
SECORE INTL.: DIRK PETERSEN interview by KVW images courtesy of SECORE International special thanks to Carin and Sina
Dr. Dirk Petersen is the executive director and founder of SECORE International, a leading conservation nonprofit organization restoring and protecting coral reefs. With a global network of scientists, aquarium professionals, local authorities, partners, and stakeholders, they're working towards making large-scale reef restoration more feasible. When you see headlines saying coral reefs could all be gone by 2050, there's really no time to lose. SECORE works with the sexual reproduction of coral (or coral spawning) to culture millions of larvae and have developed settlement substrates that can be dispersed en masse and self-attach to a reef, removing the need to plant each coral one by one. Intent to share their knowledge and techniques with others fighting for the same cause, SECORE may just help global coral restoration efforts make 2050 another 2012. 60
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fantastic to see that your settlement devices are working to mass-rear coral! How did you land on the design for the device? How do they work? We formed a working group consisting of coral restoration scientists and engineers to develop the design of the devices and produce prototypes for field tests. The overall goal of this new concept is to reduce labor and cost, and to increase the survival of the baby corals. We basically settle coral larvae on the device and seed them on the reef after a short nursery period. The big advantage of the devices is that they self-attach on the reef as opposed to traditional transplantation techniques where baby corals are basically manually fixed on the reef using epoxy cement or cable ties which is very labor- and hence cost-intensive. The devices are designed in a way that they are stuck in crevices of the reef shortly after they are seeded. The design also provides a favorable habitat for the tiny baby corals, which increases their survival. Since labor and cost are currently limiting any restoration work, we believe that this is a promising approach to get restoration to a more impactful scale.
with our partners. Those local people have realized that even if they protect their fisheries and treat their sewage, their reefs continue to die because of climate change. We have reached a point where coral need our active help through restoration on the largest scale possible. We have increased our commitment to those communities as much as our current resources allow; nevertheless, we need to do more and engage in many more places than we do currently. We are in a race against time. A great challenge is nature itself. Although we have made great strides in driving the research and technology development further; however, it takes longer than we have expected, largely because of the worsening conditions in the Caribbean. Natural coral spawning, the current source for our work has become less predictable over the past three years. We are currently drafting plans to expand our work towards the Pacific where conditions are still better than in the Caribbean. Another advantage of this expansion is that we will join forces with key players in the restoration field to accelerate our research and development. Last but not least, stakeholders from Asia and other places in the Pacific frequently reach out to us asking for help.
* I love that you created a comic and participated in The Ocean Agencyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Glowing Glowing Gone campaign. Why do you think art can have an impact on coral conservation?
What's been the greatest success/challenge so far in proceeding with the Global Coral Restoration Project? When we started the project, we were not expecting such an overwhelming response by local communities to adopt and implement the technologies that we are developing together
It is not easy to get the attention of somebody who has no direct connection to coral reefs. The comic turned out as a great tool to inspire especially the youth, creating interest and awareness for ocean conservation in an entertaining, yet educative way. Art can be very powerful in many human-related aspects, building bridges and transmitting complex stories in a lasting way. Art highly influences us, makes us look at the world differently and may change our opinion and perspective. The Glowing Gone campaign is an amazing example how to create attention and unite people for a greater cause across borders and cultures. 61
What is your paradise? My underwater paradise is doing a night dive on a coral reef and witness this incredible wonder of coral spawning. After doing this for more than 20 years, it is still magic to me and gives me hope that we can help coral reefs to survive this century.
* What are you working on that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re most excited about? Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next in the field of coral restoration? I am very excited to see the growing attention for coral reefs and especially to notice an increasing acknowledgment for restoration as an essential tool for ocean and reef conservation. I am also excited to see an increasing number of allies, ranging from exceptional scientists and skillful restoration practitioners to philanthropists who want to invest in the future of our ocean. Coral reefs are like the canary in the coalmine since they may represent the marine ecosystem that is most susceptible to climate change. They give us an urgent wake-up call on the devastating state of our ocean. Our highest priority is now to provide the knowledge, tools and training for sustainable large-scale restoration to local reef managers around the globe as soon as possible, so that the decline can be slowed-down and ideally reversed at some point. This will buy us hopefully enough time to deal with mitigating climate change effects. The sooner we get this started the better the chances are.
SECORE INTL.: ANASTAZIA BANASZAK interview by KVW images courtesy of SECORE International special thanks to Carin and Sina
Dr. Anastazia Banaszak is a coral biologist, research scientist at the Reef Systems Academic Unit of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and SECORE's local lead for research and reef restoration activities in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Recently there was good news for her and her colleagues. Eight years ago they produced baby elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) using larval propagation and outplanted them onto a ship grounding site by Cancún. These reef-building corals have since grown into healthy colonies — a paean for coral restoration efforts. Because it takes a long time to see results, it's better to act sooner than later. Coral reefs are important ecosystems that shelter marine biodiversity, protect our coastlines, and do more that we've yet to even discover. And the work of Anastazia and her team, as well as of coral conservationists around the world, is crucial to securing a future where our paradisal reefs under the sea remain a reality and don't stray into a dream.
How does it feel to see healthy colonies of your elkhorn coral? Relief that they are doing so well in an environment that is increasingly stressful with contamination etc., excitement that our techniques work. Because they are long-term commitments and results take a while to come through, it is very rewarding to see them doing so well. In fact this week we were able to get samples of the colonies and most of them have eggs so that means they are potentially contributing to the coral populations â&#x20AC;&#x201D; i.e., we have produced a self-sustaining population of corals.
* Could you explain what larval propagation is? One of the ways that corals reproduce is through sexual reproduction by producing eggs and sperm that are spawned or liberated into the water column. Fertilization followed by development through to a larval stages takes place at the surface of the water column. The larvae then find a place to settle and grow to be an adult coral, which when sexually mature produce eggs and sperm and the cycle repeats itself. Scientists assist this process by collecting the eggs and sperm from different colonies of corals of the same species, fertilizing these gametes and culturing the corals through to settlement on artificial substrates, and then taking the corals out to the reef to grow in their natural environment.
because it is the only way that corals can cope with environmental variability, especially because their environment is changing so much â&#x20AC;&#x201D; having an array of unique genotypes will help them to withstand changes such as the appearance of diseases.
* At the current rate of global warming, what will it take for coral to survive and thrive? Apart from reducing CO2 emissions drastically, one of the most serious problems that we need to deal with is nutrients and contamination of seawater through inadequate treatment of sewage, through fertilizers, sediments, etc.
* What advice do you have for folks who want to help? Reduce consumerism, recycle, reuse, buy local produce and goods.
* What is your paradise?
Why is it important to have genetically unique coral offspring? Genetically unique coral offspring are critical
For future generations to have the opportunity to enjoy nature and especially pristine coral reefs the way that I have been privileged to do so. 65
25 - 28
8 - 11
14 - 17
23 - 24
19 - 20
Heun Jung Kim, @raincityyyyy Photography
"Bodess" // Illustration
Founder of Coral Gardeners
Interview with Titouan Bernicot
"巴塞雨夜" // Bioart image series
Qinrui Chen, @chenqinrui888
"Four Seasons of Longing and Uncertainty and Love and Dreams" // Fiction
William Tham, @thamwailiang
"Tortured", "Sunrise" // 3D beaded microscopic images
Yana Zorina, @neurobead_boutique
Raymond Nakamura, @raymondsbrain
Deuphine Apedaile, @the.dirtbag.princess
Ellen Hall, @percephonie
Syed Mustafa, @symusty
Interview with Ani Liu
"Frankenflora pluviagutta" // Sculpture
Katrina Vera Wong, @furiebeckite
"If Heaven Does Exist ", "Unscripted Prayer" // Poetry
Deborah Wong, @deborahbie
Cleomë Wilkinson, @_scumcat
21 - 22
"and it's always something", "para lost !", "para within" // Photography
Ali Massie, @alimassie
60 - 63
52 - 55
38 - 41
64 - 65
33 - 36
42 - 44
31 - 32
Mercy A. Lee, @tyymercy
JT Lee, @dont_mess_with_jt
Coral biologist and local lead for SECOREâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research and reef restoration activities in Puerto Morelos
Interview with Anastazia Banaszak
Executive director and founder of SECORE International
Interview with Dirk Petersen
"Starbright" // Photograph taken when 12 y.o., submitted by Kelly A. Berry, @kellyberrychi
"Mermaids in the River" // Photograph taken when 13 y.o., submitted by Kelly A. Berry, @kellyberrychi
Founder and CEO of The Ocean Agency
Interview with Richard Vevers
Kodai Yanagawa, @kodonkadonk
"Is meme culture 2019 cabaret?" // Digital illustration
Emily Tamsin, @emily.tamsin
"Capsule" // Fiction
Vincent Ternida, @vincentternida
"Evidence of the Invisible" // Poetry + "Microbial World" // Photography
Paige Whitehead, @pagexrage
Sculptor behind the world's first underwater sculpture park and underwater museum
Interview with Jason deCaires Taylor
Larissa Blokhuis, @larissa.blokhuis
Courtney Chaney, @fertileshade
Henrieta Lau, @henritata
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50 - 51
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Seagery Zine Issue 3: That Side of Paradise September 2019 Front cover by Paige Whitehead. Compilation, design & editing by Katrina Vera Wong. www.furiebeckite.com/seageryzine @furiebeckite Printed by East Van Graphics. All text and images may be subject to copyright by the individuals credited within.