Tathra Wharf

The original Bioluminescence @ Tathra Wharf was all youth led stemming from a group of young people that were documenting the marine life on the wharf pylons before they were due to be replaced. The group ‘Life Under the Wharf’ wanted some way to be able to share the amazing biodiversity that was living on the pylons and group member Minka Waratah’s father, Luke Hamilton, approached Scott Baker to develop a way to project onto the Tathra Wharf building.

The Atlas of Life and Bournda EEC, and our Regional Science Hub joined in to assist in the presentation. Bioluminescence was born.

After the successful creative development these young people expressed the desire to do a larger event at the wharf after the pylons have been replaced, and to also take the program inland to share the experience and the skills with other young people in the region – to capture their environment and present it back to the community as a celebration of their environment with light and sound.

Words about the event by Lisa Herbert:

 On a recent chilly night in Tathra, if you had wandered on to the historic wharf, you will have witnessed a wonderful moment as Atlas of Life and Inspiring Australia’s ‘Our Place Our Species’ project participants gathered under the setting sun along with the Regional Science Hub, Life Under the Wharf, Bournda EEC, plus various community groups, as we tested a concept along projection wizard Scott Baker and facilitators Navigate Arts, local musicians and synthesiser tinkerer Chris Korvin.

This was Bioluminescence, a pilot project involving spectacular VIVID style projections of ‘under the wharf’ marine life with all its glorious colour and fascinating creatures, onto the 160 year old shipping warehouse of Tathra’s historic wharf.

Using a 6000 lumen projector, images of the abundant sea life under the wharf flashed across the weathered boards, accompanied by music from Corinne Gibbons, while we were surrounded by the smells and sounds of the ocean beneath us.

Intrinsic to the project is a young Tathra woman called Minka and her dad Luke Hamilton, who on hearing about the wharf renovation lobbied Bega Valley Shire Council to mitigate the damage and effects of the renovation project and construction. Minka and Luke along with other local diving groups set out to investigate, document, collect data on and attempt to save as much of the rich marine life that exists on the under-water pilings as possible before the wharf renovation.

Attending the event was local Marine Botanist Nick Yee who has been advising the renovation project managers. He said “it’s important to preserve as much of the existing life as possible for re-colonising when the pilings are removed and/or cleaned in the planned wharf refurbishment.” He commented that community led projects like the Under Wharf data collection “help people feel like they’re doing something, that they are being proactive.”

Scott Baker, of Bermagui, projects images onto all kinds of buildings and objects, and he was surrounded by young people wanting to have a go on the software, Heavy M, so they could map onto the beautiful old Tathra Wharf building.

Mr Baker said “Bioluminescence is the perfect intersection of science and art. But even better is that it is grass roots and community led. Tathra locals shooting video under their wharf to share the biodiversity of life living on the wharf pylons. In the true spirit of ‘as above, so below’, the idea was to take the video and images and projection map them onto the wharf building.

“With a limited budget the decision was made to utilise locally accessible technology and push forward with a creative development to test the hypothesis of the idea.

“With a half dozen young people providing stunning images and another half a dozen on the wharf deck learning the video projection mapping process the building was mapped and the prototype was successfully delivered.

“The team are now seeking funding and support to deliver a larger public event for the community by the community.”

On the night, a couple of the fishermen wandered over to ask what was happening and where the beautiful images came from… “from right under our feet, right under these boards!” was the answer. The looks of surprise on their faces was priceless and somewhat satisfying. The huge illuminated images had worked their magic.