Ocean Utopia – underwater sculptures by Val at Koh Tao, Thailand, a conservation project with New Heaven Reef Conservation Program
underwater sculpture Val conservation Koh Tao diving koh tao
coral reef conservation
underwater sculpture Val conservation Koh Tao: Ocean Utopia is an underwater evolutionary sculptures project created by Valérie Goutard (Val), the renowned French contemporary sculptor. Val has installed Ocean Utopia 12 meters underwater in the south of Koh Tao in Thailand which is a world scuba diving hotspot. This artwork constitutes a fusion between art, ecology and coral reef preservation as Val has chosen coral to be one of the mediums of Ocean Utopia in addition to concrete and bronze. The vision of Val is to promote marine ecology and coral reef preservation through art and to use her notoriety to educate divers to this universal ecological cause through this unique underwater sculptures installation.
diving koh tao
coral reef conservation
Foreword by Val
Nature is my daily comfort, the reason why I feel hopeful and grateful, the beauty of it, the continuous movement, the buoyancy, its immense diversity and its fabulous uniqueness.
The underwater seascape offers even more variety and life.
I like sculptures to interact with nature, changing aspect thanks to the outdoors shadows in the day or moon light depending on the weather, the time of the day or the season. I like observing the evolution of corrosion of the medium.
Underwater, all these characteristics are enhanced, the day light illuminates the sculptures being in the seascape, playing with the curves, continuously changing with the movement of the waves, the sea drawing its own story with moving circles of light on the surface of the artwork. The alteration of the medium will evolve faster and will naturally modify the scenery.
With Ocean Utopia my wish is to go even further than that, I wish coral reefs to grow onto some specific areas of the artwork, allowing a complete and free interaction between the strength of nature and my artistic creation.
Ocean Utopia is organized like a city architecture with fluid lines, reminding the fluidity and the strength of water, allowing the fantasy of human life under the sea.
To remind us that we are shaped by our surrounding, the sculpture will be the starting point for growing new coral reefs, horizontally on the concrete base and vertically in the textured parts of the concrete architectures. I will define the original set up underwater and will then leave it to the elements.
The interaction between the sculpture and nature will totally depend on the wind, the sun, the tide, the currents, wildlife and flora.
The coral implementation done directly on the artwork will hopefully grow through months and years, gradually modifying the visual aspect, shapes and colours, of the architectural screens of my Ocean Utopia.
The meaning of art whelms with the meaning of nature.
Foreword by Chad Scott
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, productive and valuable ecosystems in the world, but also one of the most threatened. Over 90% of the corals in the Caribbean are already gone, and over 50% of the iconic Great Barrier Reef has already been lost. Despite the great importance of reefs to all marine life, and the multitude of human induced threats affecting these fragile ecosystems, public awareness on these issues is shockingly low.
For over 60 years, SCUBA divers and marine scientists have been calling for better protection and conservation of coral reefs, but without strong public sentiment this protection has not been realized. In order to achieve more widespread awareness about the threats facing coral reefs it is important that new mediums of expression are used to convey the message. Unique underwater art projects such as this one by Val are an attractive and impactful mechanism to get more widespread awareness to the general public, which can reach a broader audience than scientific publications or articles. Visually stunning installations such as these structures reach to the public’s emotions, and inspires them to contemplate about the relationships between humans and coral reefs in a way that graphs and even photographs can never achieve.
This project will help to enrich the natural environment of Koh Tao by providing a substrate for coral growth and habitat for fishes and other marine organisms. The project will boost awareness and involvement amongst the local community in conservation projects, and add to the unique island culture and natural beauty of Koh Tao. Additionally, it will reduce the impact of SCUBA diving to coral reefs around the island by providing divers with an attractive alternative dive site. Lastly, and most importantly, this site will help to raise awareness and bring the message of coral reef conservation to the general public and audiences that normally would not be receptive to it.
Foreword by Frédéric Morel
I feel passionate with this project we have been having in mind with Val for the last few years. This is like a child dream come true and by itself the achievement of a utopia.
This project is the opportunity to create a unique international art experience for divers or snorkelers in Asia and to enhance the idea that Art becomes a useful act for the planet.
It is also about showing sculptures on a completely different scenery, discovering and watching them on a 3D approach and angles which could not be achieved on land.
Through this unique installation of one Val’s artwork underwater and including corals as one of the mediums of the artwork, the idea is also to offer notoriety and coverage to the considerable work for the environment preservation that is achieved by the NHRCP and by all other conservationists and reef managers around the world.