In the Ems estuary in the north of the Netherlands there is dredging of ports and canals collects the marine clay to then ripen the clay which goes on to be used to build dikes. This cycle of protecting the land with this clay can be seen symbolic of the relationship that the Netherlands has with the sea. As global warming causes the sea level to rise, the tensions between the land and the sea escalate and it can be seen manifested in the material qualities of the waters. In this specific site, it can be physically seen within the turbidity of the water. This stops light from penetrating the waters which affect algae and other aquatic plants photosynthesizing.

As a human standing on the edge of the water it is easy to probe this turbidity through visible change and register the darker murkier qualities from this stand point. Instruments such as a nephelometer would detect the how much light reaches the detector through the water. These tools represent how these changing landscapes are sensed.

The project developed into an exploration into how this turbidity could be sensed and what the sensors would be. This thought also began to try to contextualize the turbidity within this conflict between human activity and sea through the lens of a non human, a being closer to the sea scape than a human and a bio indicator of water quality, a mussel. Taking queues from the filtration of the mussel and using the materiality of the marine clay as a way to sense, the sensor took shape from traditional clay forming techniques of slip casting. The usual approach of the porous plaster walls taking the moisture out of slip to industrially producing vessels of clay, would become a device to absorb the sea water showing the turbidity no longer as just the color of the water but captured as layers of sediment.

Above : Stills from moving image for ‘Sensing turbidity’
Below : Performance and display at MAAT in Lisbon, Portugal