Julius von Bismarck
Die Mimik der Tethys
High sea buoy, motors and cable winches
Unique within a series of 3 + 1 AP
Silently, a high-sea buoy, its corroded metal surface covered with traces of shells and seaweed, glides overhead through the museum atrium. The massive object appears to fly through the air weightlessly, moving along three dimensions.
In perpetual motion, it registers the movements of its normal location at the SEM- REV test site, off the French coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes calm and gentle, at others given to sudden and wide-ranging motion, its varying behavior has a hypnotic effect. High-sea buoys are interchanged for maintenance reasons on a regular basis. During one such an exchange, the artist placed an accelerometer on a buoy being installed at sea. Continuously transmitting movement data via satellite to its relocated double, suspended in the exhibition space, the information guides eight electric motors and cable winches, the latter precisely reproducing the former’s movements. Inspired by the figure of Tethys—a sea goddess in Greek mythology, the daughter of the sky (Ouranos) and the earth (Gaia)—Die Mimik der Tethys functions as a barometer of nature’s moods as expressed by the constantly changing surface of the ocean. The steel object’s irregular rise and fall conjures the sea’s presence in the museum. Its ocean referent is not the romanticized one that commonly features seafaring tales but another, registering the sea of data in which we are all immersed today.