System Disintegration Candles

  • Coral Reef Mass bleaching events happen when water temperatures rise to an intolerable level. Coral Reefs are symbiotic systems, composed of coral – an animal, and a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae, which gives the coral its color and supplies nutrients including oxygen. When the temperatures in the ocean rise, the photosynthetic activity of the zooxanthellae algae increases which causes the coral to expel the algae. The coral bleaches from the loss of its symbiotic partner, turning white. If the water temperature change is temporary, the coral can regain its algae, but if the higher ocean temperatures are sustained, the bleached coral will die. Almost every coral reef ecosystem across the globe right now is experiencing some degree of bleaching from the ongoing mass bleaching event that started in 2014. Ninety-three percent of the Great Barrier Reef is bleached right now, and reefs around the world from the pacific to the Florida Keys are showing the devastating results of climate change.

    These System Disintegration Candles are made out of a deep feeling of powerlessness. How can one person do something about this crisis? How can an individual reverse the warming of the oceans? The distance we feel towards issues of climate change is captured in these objects, as we watch the candles burn we meditate on the loss of the things they reference. These candles are constructed in a way that mimics coral reef lifecycles. Reefs expand by essentially cloning a repeating polyp shape so these candles are made by casting identical forms and then wax welding those together into new configurations. The time it takes to make them is significantly longer than the time it takes to watch them disappear.