Eerily Beautiful Underwater Sculptures: Art Transformed into Artificial Reefs [PICS]

October 12th, 2013 Permalink

Our coral reefs are dying, but forward-thinking eco-minded artists are helping nature by creating stunning life-sized sculptures . . . and then sinking them. Man has been creating artificial reefs for thousands of years, starting with the Ancient Persians who wanted a military advantage by blocking off an area of the sea. As mankind has evolved, so too have our artificial reefs. The most amazing consist not of our trash or out-dated ships, but of incredibly detailed sculptures created to be placed underwater and slowly but surely undergo a metamorphosis under the sea. While it may look like abandoned statues starting to decay, it is actually art being rebirthed into living, breathing reefs. If you haven’t had a chance to dive or snorkel such locations, then you are missing out. So here is a look at the eerily beautiful process of spectacular art, underwater sculptures, transforming into artificial reefs. [52 Photos]

August 2011 Silent Evolution

More than 400 life-sized sculptures, collectively as The Silent Evolution, form a massive artificial reef in the shallow waters off of Cancun, Mexico. Slowly but surely, in an eerily beautiful process, the art changes; nature transforms the underwater sculptures from concrete, to covered with algae, and then coral, creating new reefs and new homes filled with a wide variety of marine creatures. Photo #1 by © kozyndan

Silent evolution underwater sculpture

When it comes to underwater sculptures as artificial reefs, the art of internationally acclaimed eco-sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor is the most famous. His art, “is like no other, a paradox of creation, constructed to be assimilated by the ocean and transformed from inert objects into living breathing coral reefs, portraying human intervention as both positive and life-encouraging.” Photo #2 by © Jason deCaires Taylor



The Silent Evolution in Cancun after the passing of time, 2011

The National Marine Park of Cancun has over 750,000 visitors every year, which is hard on the existing natural reefs, but the sculpture reef beckons to visitors. Since it is located in clear shallow waters, it can be seen via glass-bottomed boats, or up close and personal by snorkelers and divers. Photo #3 by © kozyndan

Christ of the Abyss, Florida Keys

This Christ of the Abyss sculpture is located in the Florida Keys. Photo #4 by © SDTN (Scuba Divers Travel Network)

Sunken Moai at Easter Island

Sunken Moai at Easter Island. This maoi was sculpted and then sunk offshore of Easter Island for a 1994 Hollywood movie. While not “purpose-built” to provide a home for marine life, aquatic creatures will eventually take it over. Photo #5 by © Mathieu Meur

Neptune Memorial Reef off Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, memorial for cremated remains

Neptune Society Memorial Reef, located about three miles off Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, is a memorial site inspired by the Lost City of Atlantis. It opened in 2007, serving as a cemetery for cremated remains. This Lion is one of the many statues, domes, arches, benches, gates, roads and 44 columns that make up this underwater city. Photo #6 by © Neptune Society

underwater Buddha statue in Bali

Nature moves in, morphing the surface of this underwater Buddha statue in Bali. Photo #7 by Robert Scales

Underwater sculpture, man-made coral reef in Dragon Bay, Grenada

Underwater sculpture Vicissitudes as seen in 2011; it is just one of a collection of ecological underwater contemporary art sculptures located in Moilinere Bay Sculpture Park at Grenada. Photo #8 by Michael Brashier

Vicissitudes, a ring of 26 standing children standing while holding hands and facing outwards

This is the Vicissitudes right after installation at a depth 5 meters in 2007. It consists of a ring of 26 children, standing while holding hands, and facing outwards. The life-size casts were molded from children with diverse ethnic backgrounds and took six months to create; it was one of Jason deCaires Taylor’s early works. Construction of the the world´s first public underwater sculpture park started in 2006 and the Vicissitudes have drastically transformed over time as marine life turns art into an artificial reef. Photo #9 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Nature taking over the Vicissitudes underwater sculpture, an artificial reef in Grenada

Vicissitudes. When talking about the progression of his art alongside nature, Taylor told USA Today, “The coral applies the paint. The fish supply the atmosphere. The water provides the mood. People ask me when it’s going to be finished. This is just the beginning.” Photo #10 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Nature setting in, evolution of sculptures to reef night shots and sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor

Nature setting in, evolution of sculptures to reef. A man of many talents, underwater naturalist Taylor is fully qualified diving instructor, a sculptor, and an award winning underwater photographer. Photo #11 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #12 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Christ of the Abyss

There are several Christ of the Abyss bronze statues submerged the sea, but the original was placed in the Mediterranean Sea “near the spot where Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use SCUBA gear, died in 1947. It depicts Christ offering a benediction of peace, with his head and hands raised skyward.” Two others were cast from the same mold. Photo #13 by Funstatic

The Lost City of Atlantis underwater sculpture collection at Cayman Brac

Another large collection of underwater sculptures were created by sculptor “Foots” and installed at the Cayman Islands. “The Lost City of Atlantis” consists of over 300,000 pounds of sculptures at Cayman Brac. The Lost City dive site is located on the north side of the island at an area previously known as Radar Reef. Photo #14 by © Vance Esler

Banker sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor, part of the MUSA collection, installed at a depth of six meters

Banker sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor, part of the MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) collection, Salon Manchones. The Banker, installed in 2011 at a depth of six meters (nearly 20 feet), is just one of 486 sculptural works at MUSA where Taylor is the founder and Artistic Director. At a depth of 6-9 meters (19.7-29.5 feet), both divers and snorkelers are permitted at the Salon Manchones gallery. Taylor’s sculptures for this gallery include Anthropocene (2011), The Silent Evolution (2010), Man on Fire (2009) and The Dream Collector (2009). Photo #15 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Inertia an underwater couch potato in Mexico

This underwater couch potato scene is dubbed “Inertia.” The MUSA Museum is divided into two galleries. Only snorkeling is permitted at the 4 meter depths (about 13 feet) of Salon Punta Nizuc. It includes Taylor’s works titled: Reclamation (2012), The Last Supper (2012), The Listener (2012), Holy Man (2011), Time Bomb fuse (2011), Time Bomb mine (2011), Void (2011), Inertia (2011), Inheritance (2011), and The Gardener of Hope (2009). Photo #16 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

This phone is part of Silent Evolution at the MUSA underwater museum

Part of Silent Evolution at MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte). “To encourage coral inhabitation, Taylor uses a mix of marine grade cement, sand and micro-silica to produce a pH neutral concrete which is reinforced with fibreglass rebar.” Photo #17 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

MUSA Cancun underwater park, sculptures by Roberto Díaz Abraham

While Taylor’s art definitely makes up the bulk of MUSA Cancun underwater park, there are sculptures by other local and internationally-known artists. This sculpture was created by Roberto Díaz Abraham. Photo #18 by © Roberto Díaz Abraham via MUSA & #19 by © Roberto Díaz Abraham via MUSA

MUSA Cancun underwater park, sculptures by Karen Salinas Martínez

MUSA Cancun underwater park, sculptures by Karen Salinas Martínez. This brought to mind the Stargate. Photo #20 by © Karen Salinas Martínez via MUSA

Silent scream from underwater sculpture park

Life-sized sculpture appearing as if he is issuing a silent scream. Photo #21 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Evolution of Silent Evolution sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor

In these series shot over time, Taylor shows off the evolution of Silent Evolution sculptures. Photo #22 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #23 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

The Silent Evolution - underwater sculpture off the coast of Cancun, Mexico

Silent Evolutation before the passing of time. Photo #24 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Silent Evolution process of sculpting of and by Jason deCaires Taylor

Process of sculpting and nature eroding. Taylor’s website explains, “Taylor’s most ambitious work to date — The Silent Evolution (2010), forms a permanent monumental artificial reef in Mexico. Occupying an area of over 420 square meters and with a total weight of over 200 tons, it consists of 400 life-size casts of individuals taken from a broad cross section of humanity and has been designed to aggregate fish and corals on a grand scale. Slowly but surely these sculptures are evolving, a fur of algae on a girl’s cheek, a starfish on a nun’s face, The Silent Evolution reveals the imperceptible changes of nature on human artifice. Eventually this underwater society will be totally assimilated by marine life, transformed to another state—a challenging metaphor for the future of our own species.” Photo #25 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

MUSA underwater statues in 2011

MUSA underwater sculptures turning into a living reef system as seen in 2011. Photo #26 by © kozyndan

Little girl and Silent Evolution in 2011 at MUSA, Cancun Mexico

Both beautiful and eerie, Silent Evolution in 2011. Photo #27 by © kozyndan & #28 by © kozyndan

Jason deCaires Taylor's The Dream Collector underwater sculpture at the Cancun Underwater Museum

Taylor’s ‘The Dream Collector’ was installed in 2009, at a depth of 8 meters (about 26 feet), and consists of a man with a his dog at his feet. The man is leaning against a stone cabinet filled with sealed bottles that each contain a message written by people from varying ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Photo #29 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #30 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #31 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #32 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

Some of the sculptures at the Underwater Museum of Art Cancun – MUSA, as well as Jason deCaires Taylor showing the creation and installation process. Video #1 by Jason deCaires Taylor via Lomas Travel

Arches and cremation burial plots at the Neptune Society Memorial reef

Arches and cremation burial plots at the Neptune Society Memorial reef. Neptune Memorial Reef “is the largest man-made reef ever conceived and, when complete, will have transformed over 16 acres of barren ocean floor.” Cremated remains are mixed with cement and sand, poured into molded shapes — such as a shell or a starfish — and then added to the reef. Photo #33 by © Neptune Society Memorial

The gates of the Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida

The gates of the Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo #34 by Elkman

Neptune Memorial Reef where oldest living scuba diver in the Guinness World Records is interred

Neptune Memorial Reef where shipwreck diver Bert Kilbride, once listed as the oldest living scuba diver in the Guinness World Records, is interred. Photo #35 by Todd Murray

King Neptune sculpture at Playa Piskado, Curacao

King Neptune sculpture at Playa Piskado, Curacao. Photo #36 by © Islands.com

The Lost Correspondent when in it was relatively new in the waters of Grenada

The Lost Correspondent when in it was relatively new in the waters of Grenada. The Lost Correspondent, installed in 2006 at a depth of 22 feet, is but one of 65 sculptures at the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park contains some of Taylor’s other work including Grace Reef (2006), The Unstill Life (2006), Vicissitudes (2007), The Fall From Grace (2007), and the Tam CC Project (2007). Photo #39 by © Jason deCaires Taylor via Luxury In Progress

The Lost Correspondent after time and coral growth

The Lost Correspondent after time and coral growth. After about 8 – 14 months, aquatic life at Grenada’s Molinere had transformed these works of art in living reefs. Photo #40 by © Jason deCaires Taylor via Luxury In Progress

Viccistudes underwater sculpture in 2011

The Vicissitudes design took six months to make and weighed 15 tons in dry cement. Photo #41 by Michael Brashier

Artificial reef from underwater statues in Grenada

Vicissitudes: “The ring symbolizes the concept of life’s ongoing cycle and highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well managed environment for future generations, holding reference to the ability of children adapt to their surroundings.” Photo #42 by Michael Brashier

Underwater statue in Grenada as seen in February 2013

Taylor said that 40% of coral reefs worldwide have been destroyed, with estimates as high as 80% destroyed by 2050. As people are drawn to see the art turned to artificial reefs, it helps over-visited natural reefs regenerate. Photo #43 by northern man

Buddha statues at the Temple, underwater Bali

Buddha statues at the Temple, underwater Bali. Photo #44 by Robert Scales & #45 by Robert Scales

Reef Ball artificial reef with diver

While Reef Ball designed artificial reefs are not quite as sculpturally stunning as some other underwater works of art, they serve the same purpose and the transformation is stunning. “We have placed Reef Balls in 59+ countries and our projects have a global reach of 70+ countries. We have conducted over 4,000 projects and deployed over 1/2 million Reef Balls.” Photo #46 by © Reef Ball Foundation

Reef balls come in over 20 styles with varying sizes to rehabilitate a coral reef

Reef balls come in over 20 styles with varying sizes to rehabilitate a coral reef. Photo #47 by © Reef Ball Foundation

Cayman Island bronze mermaid underwater sculpture Amphitrite is 9 feet tall and 600 pounds

Cayman Island bronze mermaid underwater sculpture. According to DiveCaymen, “A 9-foot-tall, 600-pound bronze mermaid statue was recently put in place at Sunset Reef in 55 feet of water off Grand Cayman. The sculpture, created by 42-year-old Canadian artist Simon Morris, is officially named Amphitrite, Siren of Sunset Reef. In mythology, Amphitrite was the queen of the seas, married to Poseidon, lord of the oceans.” Photo #48 by John Carleton & #49 by John Carleton

Jason deCaires Taylor's Anthropocene, man and car in black and white, MUSA collection

Jason deCaires Taylor’s Anthropocene sculpture, a man curled on top of a Volkswagen Beetle. Inside there are a variety of built-ins that serve as homes to lobsters and other crustaceans. The side windows are dotted with holes that allow fish to enter, take refuge and breed. Photo #50 by © Jason deCaires Taylor

The change from art to artificial reefs

The change from art to artificial reefs. Taylor’s site is filled with hundreds of amazing images ranging from the creation and installation process, to the sculptures both new and eroding into living reefs. Photo #51 by © Jason deCaires Taylor & #52 by © Jason deCaires Taylor



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