The Lagoon Cycle, 1974-1984

An estuarial lagoon is the place where fresh and salt
waters meet and mix It is a fragile meeting and
mixing not having the constancy of the oceans
or the rivers It is a collaborative adventure
its existence is always at risk

Heavy rains increase its size and its boundaries
increasing nutrients while decreasing salts

Forest fire then rain can set up the conditions
for heavy silting and a lagoon can turn first into a
mud flat then into a swamp

If the day is warm the waters being shallow
warm quickly If the night is cold the waters
being shallow cool quickly

Life in the rivers the lakes and the oceans
where the properties of water are more constant
is less stressful

But life in the lagoons is very special it has evolved
high tolerance to the stresses that comes about from
sudden changes in salt and fresh water and
temperature and available food for the life web

Life in the lagoons is tough and very rich
it breeds quickly Like all of us it must improvise its
existence very creatively with the materials at
sand but the materials keep changing Only the
improvisation remains constant.

This 360 foot long and eight foot tall mural is an extended semi-autobiographical dialogue, with stories and anecdotes, plays between two characters, a ‘Lagoon Maker’ and a ‘witness’, and serves to establish the philosophical basis for the ecological argument in many later works. Beginning in Sri Lanka with an edible crab and ending in the Pacific with the greenhouse effect, it seeks ever-larger frames for a consideration of survival. It looks at experimental science, the marketplace and megatechnology, finally posing the question, “What are the conditions necessary for Survival” and concluding that it is necessary to reorient consciousness around a different database.

A work in over 50 parts, partially commissioned by and in the collection of John Kluge, Metromedia. Extensive catalog with 45 color plates, essays by Carter Ratcliff and Michel de Certeau and biography and bibliography. Main exhibitions at the Johnson Museum of Cornell University and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Lavilette Amazon. French Translation, Jacques Leenhardt, Collection Centre Pompidou.

The Lagoon Cycle was also recreated as a complex hand-made book. The Lagoon Cycle was designed to envelop. The Book of the Lagoons was designed to be intimate and accessible. A folio of 45 images, The Book of Lagoons has been scanned and can be seen its entirety. Click here to see PDFs with high quality images and fully legible script (these are a large files). Additionally, the exhibition catalog can also be viewed as a PDF (this is a much smaller file).

Who: Basic Resserch by: Dr. Renil Senenayaka
Design support: Heidi Hardin, William Moseley, Minori Minor, Vera Westergaard
Support by: Scripps Institute of Oceanography under Professor John Issacs, Director.

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