Elevation #4: flood/wave/flood
Steel, wood, Pepper’s ghost/3D video, grasses, ceramic tiles
The ceramic tiles each carry the common name of one species of flora, fauna, fish, crustacean, mollusc, insect or bird which together make up the ecosystem of the Rhode Island saltmarsh environment – the breeding ground for the soon-to-be-extinct saltmarsh sparrow.
By examining the plight of saltmarsh sparrows, who live and breed exclusively in the narrow and increasingly depleted marshlands along the eastern seaboard of the US, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson emphasise the wider issue of human/environmental relations, interdependency and pending extinction. This particular species, it is thought, will be extinct by 2050, because their homeland saltmarshes are among the most vulnerable in the US, due to their low elevation and the rate of rising sea-level in the Northeast. The birds’ nesting cycle lasts around 23 to 24 days – just a few days less than the 28-day tidal cycle influenced by the moon’s gravity. With rising tides more frequent, the 28-day window is lost and eggs will either float away or the chicks drown. Further to that, from inshore, landfilling for development threatens the birds’ survival – and that of the flora and habitat in the area. The ceramic tiles in this work together carry the names of this and all other recorded species of flora and fauna which make up the Rhode Island saltmarsh sparrow breeding environment.