A team of divers Saturday finished placing a series of artworks on an intentionally sunken ship in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The project, consisting of 24 large photo illustrations created by Austrian artist Andreas Franke, was installed on Gen. Hoyt S Vandenberg, a former U.S. Air Force missile tracking ship that was scuttled seven miles south of Key West on May 27, 2009, to create an artificial reef.
With the ‘Plastic Ocean Project,’ the photoartist seeks to draw attention to the need to eliminate plastics in the world’s oceans.
“The inspiration for this whole project is that we have such a wonderful ocean and we have to take care,” said Franke. “We really have to take care of what is inside, and what we do, and we have to keep it perfect for our next generation.”
Franke said that ‘Plastic Ocean’ images represent the beauty of this world and its future generations. Juxtaposed with some of the images are factoids intended to create awareness of the need to curb the reliance on plastics, the extent of plastic garbage inhabiting the oceans worldwide and its harmful impact on the living beings in the ocean.
Each artwork is individually encased in plexiglass, mounted in stainless steel frames and sealed with silicone before being attached to the Vandenberg’s hull. Over time, the artworks should accrue the ocean’s salt, algae and microorganisms, transforming the art in different ways.
“During these three months, we will have, we will see, the signature of the sea,” he said. “All the microorganisms will be, become a part of the artwork, so the artwork will be unique.”
‘Plastic Ocean’ is to remain on the Vandenberg through August 25 for shipwreck divers in the Florida Keys to enjoy, before the images are moved to an above-water gallery.
Installation of the underwater art gallery is a part of 10th anniversary activities to mark the sinking of the 523-foot Vandenberg artificial reef. The scuttling, that involved permitting, planning, ridding the vessel of contaminants and towing it to Key West from Norfolk, Virginia, cost about $8 million and took approximately a decade to complete.