Michael John Whelan
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Aqua Lung
2018
series of blown glass objects made from sand obtained from a site
of Jacques Cousteau's 1954 British Petroleum sponsored survey
dimensions variable
(1/8) Next




In 1954 companies that would later become BP and Total commissioned a young Jacques Cousteau to undertake an oceanographic survey of the Persian Gulf. As Cousteau's career progressed, he became a vocal conservationist. However, as a factor in the discovery of oil, the survey of 1954 was instrumental in irreversible changes in both the region and the world. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Whelan travelled to a series of coordinates from Cousteau's survey. With a dive team he conducted his own visual surveys of the sea bed. During these surveys, non-invasive sand samples were collected. Working with a master glass blower, he transformed the samples from the dive sites into glass batches. This glass was then blown into used diving cylinders, creating a series of unique objects. The form is hollow, made with human breath. This, combined with the air bubbles in the glass, evokes a sense of the fragility of life. Bubbles, particles and lines from impurities permeate the transparent medium. The remaining sand was returned to the sea.