The UNB Art Centre’s newest exhibit truly puts the “Art” in STEAM—STEM’s slightly cooler cousin—as both science and art combine in Fathom the Depths of the St. Lawrence Estuary: Art & Science.
Fathom the Depths follows a team of scientists from New Brunswick, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, studying the underwater terrain of the St. Lawrence river. The team was documented by a Rimouski-based photographer named Jean-Christphe Lemay, and a team of poets from the Department of Letters and Humanities at the Université de Québec à Rimouski. This combination of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] elements with both visual and literary artists presents a decisively striking experience.
While not directly part of the exhibit content, the space occupied by Fathom the Depths certainly adds to the exhibit’s atmosphere. The large rooms in Memorial Hall adorned with breathtaking photo prints evenly spaced gives the impression of a nearly rhythmic journey as the viewer walks between them. Both rooms also produce pleasant white noise from the climate control systems, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere presented in the exhibit’s photos.
As striking as the photos in Fathom the Depths are, the two video sections of the exhibit are undeniably the most eye-catching. The first video, composed of a time-lapse chronicling a piece of the St. Lawrence coast photographed every day for a year, evokes all the oceanic imagery that Martitimers grow up learning to love. The second video element in the exhibit is a 3-D reconstruction of the St. Lawrence riverbed, displaying all the submarine hills and craters hidden from the average eye.
However, by far the most impactful piece of the Fathom the Depths is the combination of photography and poetry that constitutes the bulk of the exhibit. Spaced evenly along the exhibit’s two rooms, these photos depict both scientific equipment and nature. As such, the exhibit seems to meld not only artistic expression and scientific discovery, but also nature and technological progress.
Clearly, a key theme of the Fathom the Depths is comparison and contrast. Apart from the obvious contrast between science and art, or nature and technology, the combination of striking visuals and haunting prose creates a full buffet of artistic offerings. Essentially, the exhibit provides not only a purely visual artistic experience but instead combines striking visual art with cerebral and internal artistic expression in the form of haunting poetry.
In short, Fathom the Depths of the St. Lawrence Estuary is a must-see offering from the UNB Art Centre. While making the trek down the hill to Memorial Hall might be daunting for some readers, it is well worth the experience on offer. Not only is Fathom the Depths a rewarding artistic experience, but it also presents a genuinely impressive feat of scientific discovery in an engaging and creative manner.
Make sure to see Fathom the Depths while you can, and keep an eye on the UNB Art Centre for future exhibits.