The Power of Arts and Music Turn the Tide on Ocean Conservation

Using artistic expression as a tool to inspire others to action.

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May 31 2017, 7:45pm

Photo via Nick Pumphery

This is an opinion piece by Oceanic Global, a non-profit that taps into art, music and tech to educate individuals on issues impacting our oceans to provide them with solutions for driving positive change. June is World Oceans Month and VICE Impact will be regularly featuring content related to protecting the world's oceans and seas.

Nature is art. It holds beauty in and beyond the mere functionality of form necessitated for the survival of species this beauty is all around us, an element of a system that supports all life, a driving force that animates and makes it possible for us to be, explore, and find happiness. But nature is under attack. Each day, plastic from the most mundane of our daily activities, chemicals from the farms which produce the foods we eat, and our choices in seafood consumption threaten to topple one of, if not the most vital ecosystem for planetary survival—the oceans. Depending on who you ask, there are upwards of five major issues plaguing the oceans today. These issues include coastal pollution, dead zones of oxygen-depleted water where nothing can live, habitat destruction of estuaries and reefs, overfishing destroying multiple elements of the food chain, and acidification. So, what can we do about it?

Enter Oceanic Global, a millennial-lead movement which aims to use the beauty of nature and the artistry of humans in various forms of media to change the conversation around sustainable consumption and scientific progress. Working with some of the world's top DJs, artists, videographers, technologists, and marine researchers, Oceanic aims to leverage the arts in a play to not only raise money towards solution-oriented actions, but to further create a cultural shift in the consciousness around our daily decision making which adversely affects the planet.

Art, as a human construct, serves well in this role. Music brings people together -- "noise" brought into patterns and focus becomes a call to gather, celebrate, connect, and share thoughts and beliefs. Painting, drawing, sculpture- these forms inform us of the thoughts and feelings of their creators, reflective of the struggles and triumphs of communities and generations. Artistic creation can feel superfluous. It does not feed anyone, it does not slake the thirst of those without access to clean water or provide shelter for those in need of a home. However, the Logos would say that art serves a purpose, a critical purpose in the grand scheme of things. Artistic expression is a messaging platform which plays not on information but emotion. It is a thread of energy which bonds us all together. As we are all driven to feed, drink, sleep, and seek carnal satisfactions, some are driven to create, and this drive is imperative for the education of those around the world.

As a conservationist, art holds for me dual purpose, to capture the beauty of nature and inspire those who view it to take the steps necessary to make the right choices. A massive, critical, and driving force in our world, vast and deep, supporting all life, is the ocean. It is responsible for the daily livelihoods of more than three billion people, and is a source of not only life but great beauty. It should be revered, but every day we pollute it, strip it of its resources, and deprive it of the respect it deserves. Yet it still does its job: it supports us. But for how long?

We see images of waves filled with trash, beautiful beaches desecrated with plastic and waste, seabirds and wildlife trapped in the thoughtless throw-away of some long-past good time; documentarians speak of depleted fisheries, reefs bleached bare, and vast swaths of oceans filled with more polymers than life. These inform us of the struggles, but what inspires us to action?

I am honored to be part of a team working to answer these questions, with the lofty goal of saving the oceans. Our approach is to bring together that which moves us -- great music to bring us together and get us on our feet, beautiful visual pieces to point us in our direction, and next-generation technologies to expand our experience and understanding that we may more fully engage with both the beauty of the oceans and the problems which plague them.

As a conservationist, art holds a dual purpose to capture the beauty of nature and inspire those who view it to take the steps necessary to make the right choices.

Oceanic Global celebrated its official launch last month on the Brooklyn waterfront at a new eco-friendly hotel. We unveiled the first of our signature immersive experiences taking place this summer- a music festival benefitting ocean conservation on July 20 on the isle of Ibiza.

Where the world goes to party, we will bring intention to summer celebration by leveraging dance music, multimedia art installations, virtual and augmented reality technologies, and scientific expertise. We look towards human arts and efforts to capture and amplify the beauty of the natural, turning the ecstatic energies of summer love towards positive action.

Photo via Nick Pumphery

With education as a cornerstone of our mission, this meeting of minds and hearts, with globally distributed and accessible content, represents the beginning of a fundraising series in which the Oceanic Global team provide funding and backing to scientists and organizations leading the charge in protecting what are arguably the world's most critical ecosystems.

Ibiza is sure to be a good time, but one event in one place is not enough. Our mission for each event we do, each post we put up, or each person we meet is to draw awareness to the fact that our choices matter.

Ocean Global's slogan, #OurChoicesMatter, may be a battle cry for many things, and it serves as a reminder that we are responsible for our future. The simple mantra highlights easy actions we can all take in our daily lives to restore our ocean's health. Through demonstrating how individual choices can significantly lessen humanity's collective footprint, Oceanic Global hopes to create a shift in consciousness and empower behavioral change towards a more sustainable way of life.

We look towards human arts and efforts to capture and amplify the beauty of the natural, turning the ecstatic energies of summer love towards positive action.

Plastic straws, bags, coffee-cup lids, and single-use water bottles are all major contributors to the problems facing our oceans. Paper straws or no straws, reusable water bottles, and drinking your coffee without a lid are small, painless adjustments we can make to reduce the plastic waste that now outnumbers biological life six-to-one by volume in much of our oceans. Similarly, we can take strides each day in the fight against seriously depleted fisheries by cutting down our seafood consumption, especially from large predatory species- avoiding tuna, swordfish, and other such choices in favor of less pressured populations not only reduces the demand for species on the brink of population collapse, but also reduces your exposure to mercury and a highly unregulated industry when it comes to imports. Instead, by local, join a community supported fishery and eat boat-to-table, or ask your local market about sustainable seafood options.

Our choices matter beyond our consumption. What we choose to express impacts and educates those around us, stirring them to positive action or normalizing behaviors which impede progress. Use your powers for good, and change the filters through which the people around you see the world so that we might all come together to paint, draw, film, and dance for life.