To some, the ocean is just a vast body of saline water. However, others see it as a synonym of life, an escape, and a treasure we must admire, care for, and preserve. What does it mean to you? Can you imagine an alternate, futuristic life where we live, commute, and interact underwater?
The immersive and interactive New York City-based exhibit Ocean Cube serves as an escape from daily routines and introduces a world unlike we’ve imagined.
The exhibit made its debut on June 8th in trendy Soho, Manhattan. The exhibit’s five interactive rooms serve as models demonstrating what life underwater life would be. The creative, vibrant, and engaging design and atmosphere, designed by architects at the University of Buffalo, catch visitors’ attention, keeps them engaged, and lend themselves as cool “Instagrammable” spots.
The alternate-life experience begins as guests walk through the thick, black curtains which lead into the bright “Coral tunnel” room. The stunning, glittery optical fibers, which imitate the reefs, hang from the ceiling as air flows and visitors immerse themselves in its beauty. While taking in its vibrant colors, guests are encouraged to reflect on the harmful effects climate change continues to inflict on the coral reef’s health and lifespan. The tunnel is the exhibit’s introduction as well as the connection between our everyday world and the deep sea’s bright colors, textures, and creatures which guests experience in the next rooms.
As guests exit the tunnel, they walk into the grass-colored room titled “Net Guard.” White, tangly fishnets, dangling buoys, and string-neon lights protect guests from the ocean’s polluted surface as they stand in the middle of the cube. As the synthetic breeze waves the nets, guests walk towards the mirror on the wall as they snap a quick picture featuring the nets and lights surrounding them.
The exhibition continues with the “Jellyfish Station” room, my personal favorite. The “station” refers to the use of marine animals as alternate transportation methods. According to the designers, the jelly-floats are the perfect way to sightsee the town when visiting, while whales are perfect for locals since it the fastest way to get around. These ideas are an exciting simulation of what everyday life could be like without delayed subway trains or rush-hour traffic in Miami. As guests roam through the room, its sophisticated combination of textures and light allow guests to fully immerse themselves and feel as if they are floating as well.
As guests exit the “station’s” deep-blue colors, the following room speaks to all the deep-sea shopaholics. As a bright medley of yellows and oranges collide, guests enter the “Bubble Room.” The designers stated that the bubble room would stand as an underwater shopping mall. It’s the most popular room in the cube since it has something to offer for everyone. Guests can feel free to interpret each bubble as they wish and make the place their own.
The following and final room urges guests to be environmentally conscious and reduce plastic footprint. As individuals enter, they see plastic bottles hanging from the walls and ceiling all placed at different heights and angles. They also see a transparent shark floating through the polluted waters. Guests are surprised that although the shark is supposed to be the room’s main focus, the pollution overshadows it. The “Recycle Bank” room shines a light on the importance of recycling and reducing plastic consumption.
As the exhibition comes to an end, we are encouraged to listen and take a stand to the environmental issues our planet is facing. If you happen to be around the New York City area and want to spice up your Instagram flow while raising awareness through social media, visit Ocean Cube. However, if you can’t make it, but still want to make a difference, there are many opportunities to do so in our city of Miami.
Luckily, we live in an all-year-round paradise. A significant part of why Miami is known as a paradise is due to its sunny weather, white sands, and warm, clean ocean waters. If we don’t take a stand and face the current environmental crisis, we might not be able to enjoy our beaches the way we always have. As our ecological crisis gains recognition, we should take advantage of the community-organized clean-up events, and work together to stop the continuous destruction of our environment. There are amazing organizations such as VolunteerCleanup.org (https://www.volunteercleanup.org/find) and Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/d/fl–miami-beach/clean-up/ where one can RSVP to attend to a beach clean-up all throughout the South Florida area.
words_corina azpurua, photo_corina azpurua & anaïs mamery