Full Fathom Five

Todd R. Forsgren

Over the next month or so I plan to introduce my latest project, Full Fathom Five, to you via the AKAblog. Full Fathom Five considers the problems that globalization and climate change are creating for our oceans, lakes, and seas in several chapters.

Each chapter considers a different “photographic specimen” in a way that explores both the environmental issues as well as critical ideas about the photographic medium. The title for this series references a poem in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The poem is about the death at sea of Ferdinand’s father. During Shakespeare’s time, anything sinking to a depth of five fathoms (30 feet) was considered completely lost. The poem’s imagery describes how the father’s body becomes a part of the reef that he lies in. Like Ferdinand’s father, our fate is tied to that of our environment: 

   Full fathom five thy father lies; 
   Of his bones are coral made; 
   Those are pearls that were his eyes; 
   Nothing of him that doth fade, 
   But doth suffer a sea-change 
   Into something rich and strange. 
   Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: 
   Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell. 

The coming years will be an incredibly challenging time for the world’s water. While I don’t believe our oceans have sunk to such a depth that they’re completely lost, human culture most certainly needs a sea-change in order to prevent irrevocable changes to our seas.