Tidal Timspace Imprints & Palimpsests

Heather Green & Owain Jones

About the Exhibit.

Tides, especially macro (high range) ones connected to estuaries and mudflats, perform polyrhythmic writings and erasings; concealing and revealing the ghostly traces of the movements of creatures, materials and of the flowing water itself in the exposed sand and mud of inter-tidal areas at ebb tide. Each set of tracings, unique, is wiped away by the following tide and a new performance unveils a fresh set of inscriptions. As quintessentially liminal spaces, these landscapes provide a fleeting platform for entanglements with humans and non-humans—and each state of material becoming is haunted by what has recently been, and what is soon to become again. In this collaborative project, we think of these marks witnessed at low tide as palimpsests and capture them in plaster casts that record the still-wet, intricate patterns inscribed by invertebrates, currents, and other beings, mapping the diversity and signature of both Bahía Adair in Sonora, Mexico, and the Severn Estuary in the UK.
La Cholla — Bahía Adair
Arlingham — Severn Estuary
By examining these two landscapes side-by-side, we aim to instill a sense of reverence as well as a feeling of communal care through articulating the shared characteristics and striking distinctions of each site. Located in the Upper Gulf of California, Bahía Adair has the third-largest tidal range in North America (Flessa, Fürsich 1991) and is a sparsely populated wetland complex fringed with salt pans, freshwater springs, and multiple esteros (hypersaline inverse estuaries that occur in dry climates where evaporation exceeds inflow of freshwater). The Severn Estuary, fed by the Severn River, has the third largest tidal range in the world, and rich tidal ecologies and also cultures that have been cultivated for centuries. We hope that by comparing these two landscapes, the project can create an intriguing contrast and unique framework for bringing about awareness of climate impacts on estuaries world-wide, which look to be severe (Nienhuis et al, 2023).
Artist Books

Tide Sequence Books.

Our project also includes a set of artist books; for each site one that shows a timelapse sequence of the incoming floodtide over an hour and 45 minutes, and another that intertwines an A-Z lexicon listing ecological and historical narratives specific to each place, personal and communal memory in the form of childhood vignettes, with imagery of scripts and impressions left at low tide.

Accomplishments, Process and Progress.

The Bahía Adair portion of the project is nearly complete. Heather has been working with fisherman Rafael Peñuelas Machuca recording his childhood memories with his father in the early 60s, and diver Ernesto Gastellum who has taken her by boat or 4×4 truck to remote sites along Bahía Adair to make the casts.

For the final installation, the casts will float along the walls, their locations shown on a hand-drawn map, and the artist books will be laid out on a table for the audience to peruse. A silent auction for the individual casts and artist books will help raise money and awareness for a non-profit environmental organization CEDO Intercultural.

We will be working together on the second stage of this project at the Severn Estuary in spring 2024, working with Cardiff University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Severn Estuary Partnership to record palimpsests on both the English and Welsh sides of the Estuary.

Artist Profiles

Meet the Visionary Artists Inspiring Change.

"Rhythm is to time what pattern is to space, and these need to be considered together. Tidal processes offer fertile ground on which to explore such ideas as they are so obviously temporal and spatial at once."
Lunar-solar rhythmpatterns: towards the material cultures of tides
⸺ Owain Jones
Heather Green

Heather Green

Associate Professor, Herberger Institute School of Art, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
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Owain Jones

Owain Jones

Professor (Emeritus) of Environmental Humanities, University of Bath Spa, Church Farm Cottage, Bath, UK

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