Marine Garden of Eden

The research for this work is inspired by filmmaker and photographer John Ernest Williamson (1881-1966) who invented the “photosphere”, thereby becoming the first person to film and photograph undersea. Through his vision of seascape, the civilised and orderly ideal of a tropical nature tamed as a garden was redirected towards the environment underneath the sea. His conceptions of the sea as a garden, the Garden of Eden or aquarium, were an effort to circumscribe the boundless sea; to re-present it as an idealised, domesticated space. 

Seow has created a large scaled aquatic-like lightbox installation which deliberately subverts familiar seascapes with a landscape of flora and fauna. This displacement intensifies the viewer’s experience with a sense of the uncanny. Allowing viewers to focus solely on this panorama solicits a slower process of viewing, derailing a habitual speed-reading of imagery and bringing one’s attention to the act of viewing.

It is a space where the real and imaginary collide, evoking an experience both immersive and detached: the viewer inhabits the space of the aquarium in their mind while remaining physically distant — seeing becomes feeling.