Film & TV

Adult Swim Begs Miami's Coral Morphologic for Its Oyster Video Art

Okay, so the word beg is a little strong. But yes, one of Adult Swim's producers contacted Miami artist collective Coral Morphologic (Colin Foord and Jared McKay) and asked to use their Oyster Vision video in the new series, Off the Air. Watch above. Their video of the local thorny oyster (Spondylus americanus) appears in the last minute. The same video screened locally at the Borscht and Underwater film festivals (and in the U.K. for ATP), but nothing compares to the prestige of sharing a network with Tim & Eric and Brak, right?

Adult Swim (Cartoon Network's late night alter-ego) is beloved for its cult classics Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Off the Air is the already bizarre network's foray into out-there visual experimentation. The first aired in January with the theme of animals (e.g. skiing ostriches, a bunch of meowing cats, an eagle throwing a goat off of a mountain, you know, normal animal stuff).

The second, which featured Miami's Coral Morphologic vid and aired last week, centered around food. As you'll see in the above video, it included everything from a man lighting the banana fireworks attached to his head, the slo-mo drop of a raw (and bloody) chicken, and a '50s clip where all facial features are replaced by gaping mouths.

Foord, one half of Coral Morphologhic, is not quite sure how the producer initially found out about their video art but guesses it was either from their Vimeo account or else the exposure after Borscht, which was reviewed on Paper and Vice.

Sandwiched between surreal images, the innate awesome factor of Coral Morphologic's work is somewhat diluted. After all, these are extreme (and beautifully filmed) close-ups of creatures just off our shores. Here's the video description to put the South Florida biology in perspective:

Here we look into the face of the thorny oyster (Spondylus americanus).  Unlike most shallow-water oyster species, the thorny oyster is a solitary creature that lives permanently cemented to the deeper coral reef.  Its fleshy mantle is adorned with sepia-toned psychedelic camouflage that can vary widely from one individual to the next.   The rim of the mantle is lined with dozens of eyes that stare out into the depths.  These eyes are quite simple, only detecting changes in light that might suggest an incoming predator.  If a threat is detected, the oyster will quickly snap its two shells together, sealing the animal inside with its two powerful adductor muscles.  It is the adductor muscle that people eat when they eat 'oysters on the half shell'.  Oysters are filter feeders, spending their time siphoning water through gills that strain out particulate matter. As seen in the film, the oyster periodically expels waste and water with a quick contraction of its adductor muscles.

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Amanda McCorquodale