Can the energy force of the sea be extracted, transferred conceptually, and empower the human condition? I believe it can through the medium of art. To the extent this hydraulic energy can be harnessed effectively is the job of the artist. It is the artist job to know when to approach the chaotic oceanic environment and under what conditions. When these earthly forces are presented, the energy is palpable in the atmosphere and the artist knows it is time to approach the ocean.
Recently, earthly forces were presented in a southerly low-pressure system that worked in conjunction with a category 4 hurricane which churned and delivered the EDA Surf region a week of excellent overhead waves and a weekend of turbulent double overhead seas. This very rare spectacle I knew I had to take action and attempt to harness the visual hydraulic energy. To do this I needed to view and touch this power. So I transported myself to a barrier island and engaged the aquatic environment. Using an inlet jetty as a windshield from the prevailing northeasterly gale, my entry into the ocean was calm and organized. Swimming out into the shaving cream-like foam balls was peaceful, almost blissful in contrast to the slamming set waves that I was to encounter on the outside.
When on the outside, I was met with vexing and turbulent currents that thrashed the body intensely for moments then released in an almost a passive calm until the next swell repeated the cycle. It was during this time between sets that a smooth calm of visual observations were witnessed. Moments of sunlight beamed through racing black clouds. On the surface, surfers paddled around large shifty peaks as squadrons of pelicans streamed inches above the same swell walls (as if showing the humans how it’s done). Sea spray mixed with large tropical infused rain pellets that pierced the face as a low arching rainbow stretched across the barrier island to the west. Eastbound, when the next set wave was sensed out the back, a large breath of salt air is gasped and a descent to the sandy bottom is taken. Hugging the ocean floor and still with anticipation, the incoming power is sensed. Then, like a flash of violence, the body is flung topsy-turvy. As fast as it starts it stops. Calm is restored for a moment as ocean visuals are presented once more in another round of glorious splendor. It will not be until later in the digital darkroom that the extent to which this power was harnessed will be known. Till then the collection process continues.
~ Sean D. Ruttkay