The deep sea is one of the last largely unknown areas on the Earth. However, due to recent advances in marine technologies, this situation is about to change. The Deep Sea project investigates how innovations in underwater sensors and robots open a new frontier for human exploration, expansion, and exploitation.
Marine technologies are not neutral but significantly affect how humans relate to the ocean. Underwater sensors and robots allow exploration of the deep sea for various types of purposes, ranging from underwater cultural heritage, via new sources of food, energy, and minerals, to environmental concerns relating to ocean heating and the imminent loss of marine biodiversity. The Deep Sea project focuses on how underwater sensors and robots make previously unknown territories accessible to human intervention. It combines theoretical and ethnographic investigations of marine technologies in practical use with historical contextualization of the socio-economic imperatives of deep-sea exploration. In addition, it offers a series of creative and artistic interventions that promote ocean literacy.
Today’s ocean science is overwhelmingly dominated by perspectives from the natural sciences and engineering. The Deep Sea project contributes to a more inclusive ocean science by bringing perspectives from the humanities and social sciences to bear on marine technologies. It pursues an interdisciplinary approach, being set up as a collaboration with leading research centers on marine technologies at NTNU.
Visualizing the Deep Sea in the Age of Climate Change (Deep Sea) is an interdisciplinary researcher project that brings humanities and social-science perspectives to bear on new and emerging marine technologies, which sit at the intersection of two interconnected societal challenges: climate change and new technologies. The major innovation of the project is that it approaches marine technologies (e.g., underwater sensors and robots) as mediators that shift the human-nature relationship by opening up a new frontier – the deep sea – for human exploration, expansion, and exploitation. More specifically, the Deep Sea project approaches marine technologies as media operations, investigating how they institute new spaces of knowledge and action, and how they manage the human relationship with natural environments. The project supplements existing knowledge bases on marine technologies by examining the epistemic roles of these technologies, and their broader significance as enablers that allow the exploration of these last largely unknown areas on the planet for various types of purposes, ranging from new sources of food, energy, and minerals, via underwater cultural heritage, to environmental concerns relating to ocean heating and the imminent loss of marine biodiversity. The project investigates marine media operations along five interconnected lines: media-theoretical analyses of deep-sea remote sensing, marine-archaeological examinations of knowledge-production in unknown territories, social-anthropological ethnographies of control rooms for marine operations, art-historical investigations of the visual, historical, and economic dimensions of deep-sea explorations, and creative interventions that promote ocean literacy. The project is set up as a collaboration with the center of excellence Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) and the Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory (AUR-Lab) at NTNU.