Nicolas Floc'h

Initium Maris

2015 - 2018 - 2022

Initium Maris is an artistic expedition led by Nicolas Floc'h in dialogue with scientific teams and citizens, along the coasts and islands of Brittany, aboard the vessel OAO, and aims to represent underwater space at a time when climate change is generating major upheavals in the ecosystems.

The photographs of marine landscapes and habitats make it possible to constitute a new representation of the whole of a territory at a given time (2015/2018/2022) with the variety of landscapes but also the human activities which are part of it from the underwater point of view: aquaculture, fishing, port or offshore structures, underwater archaeology...

A scientific consortium is simultaneously defining a scientific protocol which, added to Nicolas Floc'h's photography protocol, makes it possible to contextualise the images: satellite data on the colour of the ocean (Hubert Loisel, LOG - ULCO), inventory of the benthos, definition of a typology of underwater habitats in relation to biological monitoring in the field (Sandrine Derrien, MNHN), physicochemical measurements... extension to the deep environment (Julie Tourolle, Pierre-Marie Sarradin, Ifremer).

The photographs taken by the artist at 45 sites in the islands and coastal areas, covering a region from Saint-Nazaire to Saint-Malo, will constitute a photographic data base of a set of panoramic views of the Breton underwater landscape at a given moment. This photographic archive (composed of raw files) will be available for research. The images selected by Nicolas Floc'h will be presented during exhibitions in museums and art centres, in scientific institutions and will be presented in a publication.

These same images will form the basis of work as part of the associated programme Initium Maris Civis for the teams of Ifremer, Artconnexion, Passerelle Centr d'art contemporain and the association Cap vers la nature to enable schoolchildren and the general public to approach the underwater landscapes of the territory.

The project will serve as a case study for the development of participatory science programmes mobilising underwater images produced by citizens. (MNHN: Isabelle Le Viol, Christian Kerbiriou).

“Initium Maris refers to the Finistère region, the far west, and to its Latin etymology, Finis Terrae, the end of the earth. This project therefore does not place us at the “end of the earth”, but at the “beginning of the sea”. This beginning is the start of the exploration of the coastline in its submerged part, of an expedition to see, show and think the invisible”. Extract from the text Initium Maris, de la représentation du paysage sous-marin, Nicolas Floc'h, Initium Maris, carnet de bord, I/III, 2020