How to make an Ocean (2020 - ongoing)

How to make an Ocean (2020 - ongoing)

How to make an Ocean (2020 - ongoing)

An essay by

How to make an Ocean (2020 - ongoing)
Kasia Molga

Kasia Molga experienced devastating loss in the autumn of 2019 that made her cry many tears while dealing with grief, and at some point she started to collect them in a small container.
Then the pandemic started. New uneasy sensations, a sense of restlessness and unpredictability humming in the background, amplifying already present anxiety. Her tears became a sort of soothing remedy for her, their ‘presence’ intensified by a knowledge that so many other people felt the same way. 

During this time she read 'Flights' by Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel Prize in Literature 2019) and there was a short story where the question ‘How to Make an Ocean’ was posed. It struck a chord because Molga had spent her childhood on the open ocean, she lives by the sea and sea is a huge part of her life.
She started to wonder whether it is possible to cultivate some marine life in tears. To make something life affirming was her way to deal with loss - not only personal or caused by the pandemic, but also environmental grief.

How to Make an Ocean is a journey, an experience of the narrative in a form of a multi-facade installation, in which the audience is invited to look at a collection of tears and life present in them, and also in which willing participants, with help of an AI Moirologist Bot, are invited to try to shed some tears themselves so that they can contribute to the growth of Molga’s mini-oceans.

In the big room you see 30 tiny bottles – each containing tears and a North Sea algae. Each bottle is placed inside an illuminated wooden frame. Each frame is inscribed with a date, a reason for crying and the name of the hosted algae. In the same room there are additional artefacts: there is a log with the chemical strips and there is a diet log book; there is a magnifying glass to look closer at the tiny bottles containing tears and algea; there is a collection of 'tearspoons' - silver tools for tear collecting; and there are some empty tiny bottles - which hopefully can be filled up with new tears from willing participants.

The smaller room opposite of the tears is a one-person only, intimate and darkened room, with a comfortable armchair to sit down in, and a tray or a stand with 'tearspoons, the custom-made tools for tears' capture'. On a triptych of screens in front of the chair the Moirologist Bot tells its story in three chapters - the first part contains archival footage of the sea accompanied by a sound of whispered historical environmental news; the second part shows the sea with sounds of waves; and the third and final part, which lasts longest, is a video of the Moirologist Bot.
In the past, a moirologist's job was to cry and help others cry at funerals and wakes. The way Molga’s Moirologist bot behaves on this video depends on the environmental news feed of the day. It was trained using a sentiment analysis method, on a dataset rated by her & her peers, so that it can assess 'the need to cry'. 

Adding to the atmosphere in the small room is a binaural soundscape composed by Robin Rimbaud, which then gradually transforms into music composed by an algorithm, trained on samples from Robin’s compositions. This should be experienced by one person. Should this person find themselves crying, they are invited to collect their tears, using 'tearspoons'; and pour them to a tiny glass bottle.