Dissolve II – Melissa Smith

Dissolve II:  Melissa Smith

20 July – 18 August 2013:  Devonport Regional Gallery on the North West coast of Tasmania.


Melissa Smith writes:  The new works build on the Dissolve series, which advances earlier explorations into the tilt in our natural environmental balance. The catalyst for the production of this series was reading the paper, Krill looks and feelers: a dialogue on expanding perceptions of climate change data (Roberts & Nicol, 2011), which introduced me to the potential loss of the pteropod, commonly known as the sea butterfly, a species indicative of the ecosystem health of the Southern Ocean. Inspired to learn more about this creature I established contacts with scientists in Hobart and Canberra, Australia and Seattle, USA.

These relationships have enabled an exchange of information and data allowing me to better understand the consequences of ocean acidification. Through these collaborations I have gleaned a greater insight to the work of the scientists, who in turn have embraced the opportunity for their research findings to be visually interpreted and communicated to a broader audience. Through our different research and expressive methods we contribute to making sense of climate change.


Midden 2013

polylactide and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, 20cm x 26cm x 26cm


The works in this exhibition represent the threat faced by the pteropod due to ocean acidification. As the seas absorb more carbon dioxide, their chemistry changes. Carbonate ion levels decline and this element is an important building block for the pteropod’s shell. As a vital link in the marine food chain the demise of the pteropod will have a compounding effect on the web of life.

I have combined new technologies with traditional print methods, to visualise an empathic response to otherwise purely scientific observations. New technologies increasingly expand methods used in art and science to help decipher our changing environment.

Elements of the exhibition including the animation and midden will be
shown at Living Data: Art from climate science at the Muse, ABC Foyer, UTS Science building for the Ultimo Science Festival (USF) in Sydney, 12-21 September 2013 – a wonderful chance for the work to reach another audience.