A little off season research

Lisa Waidner is busy collating data from her water collections and we are busy planning and preparing for STEAM2017 Exhibition and Colloquium coming up in February. The water is too cold in December anyway, so we took a little ‘research’ trip to the Florida Keys, where I did some digging around the History of Diving Museum.

I discovered that a number of impressive ‘hard’ suits like the Oceaneering JIM Suit was developed in facilities on the Florida panhandle.

This is my geek dream!!!

There were plenty of fascinating devices homebrew to highly manufactured. I think I feel some re-creationist tendencies brewing!



last field work of 2016 (at the site of a 1559 disaster)

The last outing on 6 November before the water gets too cold for the season. We shot images on the west side of Santa Rosa Island near where the cross marking the 1559 landing site of Tristán de Luna.

Luna’s expeditions as a conquistador are really important to the contemporary history of the region. De Luna’s expedition tried to land at what is now Santa Rosa Island, but on the night of the 19 Septemeber 1559 a hurricane landed destroying

…most of the ships and cargo: five ships, a galleon, and a bark, pushing one caravel and its cargo into a grove inland. With the colony in serious danger, most of the men t

raveled inland to the Alabama River to the village of Nanipacana (also rendered as Nanipacna, Ypacana, and Nypacana), which they had found abandoned; they named the town Santa Cruz de Nanipacana and settled in until the rest of the colony arrived1

The survivors thus began the settling of the region. This creates a great amount of controversy about which city was first with the sister city St. Augustine FL (also an early Spanish new world outpost). For two years, deLuna and the party fought very hard to establish a colony with the assistance of missions in Mexico. Ultimately the Spanish Viceroy lost faith in de Luna’s leadership and he would live out the rest of his life in Mexico.  I find the pride from this region to be a very interesting sort of noble human expression of self-determination/stubbornness; it is a self-esteem for and in a failed mission that refused to give up.

The spit of land is so narrow we could literally walk the rig 200 yards south of the Pensacola Bay and be in the Gulf or Mexico. The Bay side imaging was very quick and easy; this far up the water is dark because it doesn’t flush as much. When we reached the Gulf the weather and water were spectacular. The wave action was too strong for our backdrop. The surf action would tear away the equipment and pinch our fingers as we tried to hold everything in, so we didn’t get any usable data images in the Gulf despite the nice weather.

IMG 20161106 090241903
IMG 20161106 090241903
Aperture: 2Camera: XT1254Iso: 50
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end of October expedition

Two weeks later (29 October 2016) and we are back out again measuring and photographing at Naval Live Oaks. The weather had been rainy but then it cleared. It is a bit murky. Big clumps are suspended and the sea grass is really starting to show a slow down; it is covered in schmutz. Every step throws a ‘puff’ of this matter into the shot; slowing us down. At least the water is still warm enough (barely) to not get in a wetsuit.



SECAC 2016

Sara and Thomas led a panel at the annual SECAC (Southeastern College Art Conference) in Roanoke VA. Their panel was called “Ecology Communication in Art and Education” and took several looks at the roles art is playing in the sciences.

Ecology Communication in Art and Education
Co-Chair: Sara Gevurtz | Virginia Commonwealth University
Co-Chair: Thomas Asmuth | University of West Florida

Thomas Asmuth & Sara Gevurtz | Turbidity Paintings

David Sanchez Burr | New Mexico Highlands University The Wildlife Divide

Daniel McGarvey | Independent Scholar Teaching Enhanced Science Communication through the Communication Art


At Big Sabine (Bay side)

On October 16, the team embarked to Big Sabine, a point on the Santa Rosa Island facing the Pensacola Bay. This property is the one we were unsure about trespassing on last time. To our surprise, it is owned by the University of West Florida and held for aquatic research. Score!


October 1st Expedition

We set out to hit the Bay side of the Santa Rosa Island, but we got concerned about the permission and if it was a protected area. We decided to launch on the Gulf of Mexico side instead. The water was incredibly clear, still warm and there were no clouds in the sky. It was amazing. The only drawback is that some of the team had a bad reaction to the moon jellyfish in the water.  The images are gorgeous.


18 September 2016

IT IS THE DAY… we finally bring out the new camera support and collect images at the same time Lisa Waidner is gathering data… The day looked a little overcast, but there was no lightning. We headed to the Naval Live Oaks area, where we were a few weeks ago. This time we will go from the shore and out.

I think the new device looks fetching. Here we go!

Seen in the pictures: Lisa Waidner, Haley McQueen, Zach Machado, Claudia O’Steen, Thomas Asmuth. Photographer: Rebecca Wilson.

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Presentation to 350 Pensacola

Thomas gave a lecture on the ideas of art and environment science as a hybrid practice to local environmental and ecological advocacy group 350 Pensacola. The slides are in this document. Thomas presented on the project to date and called for participation at the STEAM2017 Exhibition and Colloquium.

350 Pensacola provides local support for the global 350.org campaign. We offer lectures, discussion courses, workshops and other activities to encourage people to examine their personal values and habits and develop strategies for acting on their commitment to a healthy Earth and sustainable future.

To the BAY!

We cannot believe it. We went to take images on the bay and it didn’t cost a thing!! So much has happened; let me try to catch you up to speed.

Lisa Waidner and met a couple of weeks ago to talk. She thinks it will be very helpful to gather data together and share it. She used the term ‘ground truthing’ to describe how our two sets will verify each other’s work; we are stoked.

Next: Claudia O’Steen has joined our team. Claudia comes from RISD and was working with my good friend/mentor, Shona Kitchen. Claudia’s role is DIgital Art Post-Doc Fellow for the next two years, whhhooooo!

Meanwhile, Matt Schwartz again helped us! He hooked us up with a couple of his researchers that had an August 17 boat trip to three locations on the Bay. He is letting us tag for free.  Colleen Jennings, KJ Ayers, Zach Machado, and Lisa Waidner joined me for the 4-hour cruise. to do real world training and take images.

Zach and Colleen mostly practiced with the ROV off the boat while KJ and I tried to use a small piece of PVC marked at intervals and a piece of Plexi for a backdrop. Zach and Colleen did fine with the ROV, we tried shooting some images with the backdrop also from the ROV. We did get a ton of sexy ROV shots flying around the Bay waters.

KJ and I found it extremely difficult to hold the apparatus and camera in water that was over our head.  It was near impossible to line up the shot. Maybe if we were down low like on a float of some sort. In shallows where we could stand it was better, easier. The shots were weak though because the backdrop wasn’t filling the entire frame. So we need to rethink this procedure completely.

Lisa grabbed lots of samples and she was very happy.