Estuaries are transition zones between freshwater and salt-water environments. They are areas of exchange, usually rich in nutrients and providing conditions for sea life to flourish. This potential abundance is overshadowed however, as more than half of the human population concentrates near estuaries. The anthropogenic influence on their biology is significant, and is inspiration for the tensions demonstrated in this work.

Estuary forces saline and fresh water fluids together in a closed system. As salt-water algae within battle decay due to their hostile environment, plentiful fresh-water life springs from its forced death. What’s visible is the colorful behavior of living organisms struggling to manage a situation orchestrated by human hands.

The circle of life unfolds over time, and the process can be tracked through the change of color. First, the algae decay dissolving its pigments in the water. Over a period of a week the water colors from light pink to instense fluorescent red and pink shades. As the nutrients are being consumed by bacteria, their colonies bloom changing the color of each column seperately depending on the algae type inside and the accidental presence and battle of survival of the bacteria. In another two-weeks time, colors change from pink to green, blue and even black. Eventually, after about four weeks, all nutrients are consumed and the manmade ecosystem leads to a hypoxic zone in which no life is possible.

Estuary was part of the exhibition Fluid Matter at MU Artspace
2 December 2016 – 26 Februari 2017
Curated by Angelique Spaninks & William Myers

Estuary was made possible by MU Artspace