Ghost Reef



Commissioned by Embassy of the North Sea & MU Hybrid Art House

The many artificial substrates in the North Sea are biodiversity hotspots, cold water artificial reefs that surely play an immense role in the bigger ecosystem of this continental shelf — however, they are barely researched nor protected. The many patches of reefs are temporal, ephemeral, and alien, offer a sense of hope, and demonstrate resilience.

With Ghost Reef, Xandra van der Eijk attempts to plant the fantasy of a North Sea reef in the imagination. Animated video collages with 3D generated models based on the scarce footage taken by divers are juxtaposed with fieldrecording soundscapes taken at two locations: an oyster bank near the Brouwersdam in Zeeland, and the wreck of the Ara, a steamship that was sunk by a mine in 1942, located north of Schiermonnikoog.

With thousands of ship- and plane wrecks covering the North Sea floor, and thousands of other structures such as oil- and gas platforms and windmills serving as substrates, new underwater communities are continiously forming. Each community can exist due to its particular place in the sea and the conditions it is subjected to. In the vastness of murky water, colonized by humans, territories are lost, won, and expanded on. The structures themselves are time capsules that describe the process of colonization through its historical shipwrecks, its lost ammunition, its fishing gear, abandoned wells, and drilling platforms. Yet unseen to the human eye life unfolds. The anthropogenic structures are reclaimed by countless species; big and small. Each community is an ecosystem unique in its composition and has its own identity.

Embassy of the North Sea

Ghost Reef is the result of a research period with the Embassy of the North Sea, as part of team Underwater Noise. It builds further on the BioArt&Design Award project Seasynthesis, a sound installation about noise pollution in the North Sea. Both projects were realized with help of Wageningen Marine Research and NIOZ. The Embassy of the North Sea was founded on the basis of the principle that The North Sea (and life in) it owns itself. Here the things, plants, animals and people in and around the North Sea are given a voice.The research with Embassy of the North Sea continues in 2021.

Ghost Reef was comissioned by Embassy of the North Sea
& MU Hybrid Art House.

Project partners
WMR, NIOZ, Dutch Maritime Productions
& Stichting Duik de Noordzee Schoon

3D modeling
Sacha van den Haak

Sound design
Sébastien Robert

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