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Who Knows?

Hydrographic surveyors are basically undersea explorers. How cool is that?! They go out on boats, scan the ocean floor using sonar arrays, and map the last undiscovered places on the globe. Using techniques like depth sounding to map bathymetry, hydrographic surveyors like Emily Tidey peel back the ocean to reveal one of the most mysterious landscapes on earth.

Features found on the ocean floor can give clues, not only to what is down there, but also to what has been there in the past. Depth variation in an inlet can tell us about the movements of glaciers that no longer exist. Returning to a site over time can help us study the migration of sandwaves in response to ocean currents. Speckling and backscatter in a sonar scan can tell scientists about the materials which form the seabed, and dredge-mark scarring tells us about the impact we have on the existing landscape. In Emily's case, studies of the Auckland Islands can also lead to further research by other marine scientists, like biologists and geologists, and shape our plans for the future of New Zealand's coastal environment.

From my collaboration with Emily, I decided to explore the shapes and textures revealed both on the surface of the ocean and underneath it. I've experimented with reticulated silver to try to recreate features found naturally on the ocean floor. Reticulated silver forms crinkles and waves when a copper and silver alloy is treated and heated correctly. This process involves a significant lack of control for the artist, which can yield curious results. These jewellery pieces are like sections cut out of a sonar scan, a tiny depth chart of a piece of ocean that we haven't found yet. After all, who really knows what's down there?

Emily Brain is an Australian-born Jewellery and Metalsmithing graduate from the Dunedin School of Art.

Photographs: Pam McKinlay.

Caption: Figure 1. Emily Brain, Who Knows What's Down There?, 2018, sterling silver, copper, patina, fabric and thread.

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Title Annotation:ocean bottom
Author:Brain, Emily
Publication:Junctures: The Journal for Thematic Dialogue
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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