Re-Pulse - A transmedia project on deepsea mining - Greet Brauwers, Raf Custers

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Deep seabed mining (DSM) is rapidly coming to be, after a 'false dawn' in the 1970ies. The kingdom of Belgium may be tiny, yet a Belgian dredging giant plays a major role in today's deepsea mining wave, among only a handfull of competitors.

Deepsea mining draws on almost every discipline of society. It is a vast and complex theme, invisible to the broad public, redundant with dialectics, surrounded with controversy. But, as its on-shore counterpart, it needs close examination. 'Re-Pulse', our new research project, embeds in this broad new trend. We'll reflect on this trend and its arguments through a Transmedia Project, that will consist of an immersive installation, performance lectures, articles and a book.

Our approach is at once factual and sensorial, material and immaterial, questioning and affirmative, and therefore as dialectical as our theme. What matters to us in this research is, first, the extension of mining - 'terracification' - From Land to Sea, and, second, how this extension opens up New Frontiers of Representation. (...) Our work queries this type of colonisation through its stories. Because alongside territorial expansion, influencers attribute new dominant symbolisms to the sea. It threatens, it saves ; it destroys, it heals. How, in this framework, are deepsea mining stories being told ? What do they show ? What do they miss ? How do they eventually deceive ? Are they thrustworthy ?

It strikes us how industry stereotypes the argument that deepsea mining is necessary to make the energy transition work.
(...) Digital simulations from companies and research units assuage techniques that are in itself brutal.

To explore these paths, we'll turn (in random order) to human protagonists, organic materials such as seaweeds and sediments, corporations, colonial legacies, appropriation and governance, 21st century solutionism and other aspects that will show up on the way. We'll perform experiments and literally approach the sea, to work in it, to navigate and catch the winds, to sense it's essential roles.

And we'll struggle with Form - as ocean research itself does - because how does one comprehend the multidimensionality, how does one represent the vast space, the immeasurable time, the processes, the behaviour, the cycles, the species (humans included) and the tensions that determine what will happen to this domain. Existing solutions (think of diagrams) may inspire us when condensing multitudes of information.

From our Manifesto, September 2020