My project is based on the identification of reference points for measuring sea levels (tide gauges) on certain shores of the Mediterranean - in Venice, Stromboli and Strombolicchio, for example - chosen as sites in perpetual danger that are, moreover, on the verge of disappearing. In these places, I video record the waves and movements of the sea, marking ideal measurements of Mediterranean aquatic space to ultimately define a kind of perceptive 'counter-space' that shapes itself in reference to a sea “level zero”. In fact, set up in 1883, the Marseille tide gauge is considered to be the measure of 'hydrographic zero': this scale serves as a reference not only for the Mediterranean basin, but also for the oceans, and it is used to measure the height of mountains. I see the zero-meter limit as the starting point for a perception, a discourse, an experience, and an embodied knowledge. My work on the sea surface focuses both on the limit and the connection between land and sea: I envisage to establish an environment for creating an exchange between places, thoughts and energies that here emerge, through a specific perception mediated by the visual mediums of video and photography.

Before being a space, a territory is determined by connections: my work aims to create a 'mediated sea ecosystem' to open up possibilities for creation and transformation. These are materialised in 'speculative gestures', to actively modify the present that they entail (Isabelle Stengers). I therefore asked myself how the Mediterranean surface, as a geographical and allegorical territory, can become a space for 'communication', 'translation' in the Butler / Neimanis / Benjamin sense (linked to performativity for the perception of identity, as well as to a creative and political act) and ultimately for the 'construction' of a shared environment. In my work, the sea surface of the Mediterranean, as a melting pot of interactions, becomes both a material and metaphorical territory for representing what is sometimes invisible (entanglements, interdependent relationships, the complexity of an environment). The photographic medium is used not just for its documentary dimension, but for its 'extensibility', as an epistemological tool for embodied knowledge. This vision which is connected to the touch (Merleau-Ponty) thus becomes a tool for interaction, perception and creation between a limit and an off -limit, thus determining sensitive zones.

Key words: #surface #sea #speculativegestures #limit #scale #body #translation #vulnerability

© novella oliana 2023