Film & TV

Biologist/Artist Finds Beauty in Gulf Oil Spill, Too Soon?

A graduate of University of Miami's Marine Biology program, Aki Shiroza is now a researcher who works with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But he's also an artist. So when he recently ventured to the Gulf to document the onboard activities of NOAA's Gordon Gunter, which was in search of sub-surface oil plumes, he was inspired to make video art of the pollution he encountered. "Despite the news footage of oiled animals and catastrophic damage to the environment and local commerce, when I saw the iridescence of sheen on a glassy calm gulf water reflecting the sky, it was psychedelic and 'beautiful.'"

Resonance of Contrary Components from Studio El Condor on Vimeo.

Originally titled "Beauty Comes at a Price," the five-minute film shows rippling sheen to a soundtrack composed by guitarist Ryoji

Yamaguchi and performed by Ensemble Otodama. Natural elements were expressed by the sound of waves, wind, and acoustic instruments while

the unnatural opalescent sheen is conveyed through chords of an

electric guitar. To hint at this duality, he decided to rename the

video "Resonance of Contrary Components."

Shiroza, who creates video art as Studio El Condor,

an interdisciplinary collaboration of musician and visual artists, says

his intention was to force the audience to sit through depict the

scale of the pollution.

He submitted the film to Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art's Optic Nerve XII,

which selects the best short films made by South Florida artists, but

it was juried out of the competition. With the scope of the damage still

unknown, was it too soon to find the beauty in the oil spill?