The initial concept of Ghost Net was developed in 2009 when we found ourselves fascinated, if not disturbed, by how little we knew of marine debris. We have all heard of the floating islands of meshed plastic bottles, flip-flops, plastic bags, etc. which have been compared to the size of Holland. The epic proportions of this kind of debris, daunting as it may be, also gave us the inspiration to imagine these nets outside of the ocean suspended and weaving through an urban environment of people moving freely and safely in their habitual every day life.

The Residency which we undertook in May 2011, was first stage of this project and was facilitated by the Gulf of Carpentaria Ghost Nets Programme, The Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts and Sherrie Johnson Productions (Toronto). A brief on our experiences is described in Journal-11.

Ghost nets are fishing nets (drift nets) which have been lost accidentally, deliberately discarded, or simply abandoned at sea. They travel the oceans of the world with the currents and tides continually fishing as they progress through the waters. Over time they transform into a massive graveyard until washed ashore.

Though Ghost Net is inspired by the stories, images and materials surrounding the effects of marine debris, the goal of this art installation is to reflect, translate and transpose this remote experience of physical and mental entanglement into an effective and meaningful public experience within the urban landscape, especially within those cities where marine realities do not exist.

Just as a ghost net would entangle a marine turtle or other marine species, the artwork’s eventual ‘netting’ of an urban landscape is meant to be a temporal and experiential intervention of spatial constraint into what we understand as spatial freedom. This remote tension of entanglement is brought into the immediacy of public space and social experience as Thomas+Guinevere’s starting point. The Ghost Net continues our pursuit to conceive large-scale and temporal public artworks through an open and inclusive process with public participants in order to re-examine the creative experience and the tensions of everyday life that lie between the public and artist. Our work conjures the sense of a gesamtkunstwerk, in that it creates a total environment combining sculpture, narrative, sound, architecture, performance and public participation, which in the end produces overtones of a lasting contemporary catharsis around the artwork’s content and aesthetic.

Ghost Net was conceived by Thom Sokoloski.