Hi-Res Images

Conference of the Invisibles, Etched Glass / 48 x 96 (in) each of 13 Panels

This ghostly panorama etched on glass engulfs the viewer into a liminal space that is neither earthly nor aquatic, barely visual and only hesitantly physical. jellyfish have survived since prehistoric times but will also be one of the few species that will thrive in the on-coming transmogrifications of Nature, thinking of the changing climates and nature rebelling and reminding our symbiotic relation with other living species.

Jellyfish are monsters. Soft glass parasols as colorful as flowers, they blossom from watery depths with delicate grace. Yet woe to those tangled in their stinging tentacles. Along beaches in Australia, Florida, and the Philippines, jellies are becoming a greater threat than sharks, sending scores of swimmers to hospitals, some with fatal stings.

Off the coast of Japan, 450-pound Nomura jellies have capsized boats that have snared loads of them in their nets. In the Black Sea, comb jellyfish eat ten times their weight in a single destroying fish and fisheries. As jellyfish consume the small fish fry, emptying seas of other species, the waters fill up with jellies in fantastical numbers. The richness of earlier marine assemblages is overwhelming. The ocean turns monstrous. Filling the seas with sloshing goo, jellyfish are nightmare creatures of a future in which only monsters can survive.  How did such monstrosity arise?

Those Black Sea combs—so inspiring and so terrible—arrived in the ballast water of ships as recently as the 1980s. They took over too- warm seas emptied out by overfishing and polluted by the choking runoff of industrial farming.

Under other conditions, jellies are capable of playing well with other species. If jellyfish are monsters, it is because of their entanglements—with us. Jellies become bullies through modern human shipping, overfishing, pollution, and global warming. In all heedless entanglement with more-than-human life, we humans too are monsters.

(What If All Organisms, Including Humans, Are Tangled Up with Each Other? Art of living on the Damaged planet)