Faculty Science-Art Collaboration Project, “Was Here,” Illustrates Sea Level Change

East Carolina University’s Outer Banks Campus will host a disassembling event for a large art installation, “Was Here,” on Friday, October 7, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Open to the public, the deinstallation will take place on the grounds of the Coastal Studies Institute in Wanchese, N.C. and will include an artist discussion, question and answer period and a reception.

“Was Here” is a collaboration between two ECU faculty members to study, illustrate and bring awareness to sea level change. David Lagomasino, assistant professor for the Department of Coastal Studies, and Gabe Duggan, assistant professor for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, said they worked with data to consider ways in which art might both respond to and challenge pre-existing science around the topic of sea level change.

The approximately 100-ft, three-dimensional piece offers three ways to view the experience: on the ground, from a higher floor inside the Institute and from images captured by drone or satellite. These three ways to view the piece represent how scientists receive data and study coastline changes and emphasize the importance of looking at an issue multiple ways.

Duggan said, “By documenting the [installation] process via real-time kinematic positioning (RTK), we’re tracking my movements in space to create the piece. We can then compare otherwise invisible patterns to the resulting work. My hope is that reflecting on this may offer some insight to parallel waxing-waning processes in nature, such as coastline removal and backfill.”

Lagomasino said, “We plan to continue to run further experiments to determine possible interactions between surface visibility, currents, and water levels. This work was just a steppingstone towards additional SciArt integration projects.”

The art installation was created referencing Coastal Studies Institute coastline maps from 1585, 1860 and 1950.

“Was Here” will be available for public viewing at the Coastal Studies Institute until Friday, October 7 when it will be removed in conjunction with Dare Arts’ First Friday series.