Whale watching (2019), 3:26, loop

Whale watching (2019) imagines a future where marine animals have adapted to the now extremely polluted waters, and are the only survivors on the post-ecological collapse Earth. Filmed at a mobile dolphinarium in Tula, Russia, Whale watching aims to draw further attention to the continued use of marine mammals for entertainment worldwide.

Whale watching is featured on TBA21-Academy's Ocean Archive. It was part of Animal Gaze 2020 exhibition at the School of Art, Architecture, and Design, London Metropolitan University.

'Reminiscent of an aquarium tank missing an exhibit, the screen is filled only with dense rippling waters. Instead, the undulating waves are murkily tinged a worryingly artificial colour. These waters aren’t blue, green or even grey. They are a viscous pink, a cartoonish blancmange hue of a petrochemical-worshipping past and a post-ecological-crisis, somewhere between a redundant Vaporwave sunset and a chemical slick that can’t be contained. But the very sight of this screened pollution is also gently seductive, the waters calling us into a current that may be too strong to swim against. These ripples look as if they should smell of some kind of sweetened childhood, memories of a long-gone era of plastics… Which of them would it be? A lab-created strawberry-flavour? Or the first inhale of heady fumes from a plastic toy pony, its rump stamped with cherries and a cascade of pink nylon mane, stickily torn from its cellophane? 

In this image of the future, seen through the lens of commodified entertainment as consumerism, Koroleva puts the continued and worldwide use of marine mammals for entertainment in full view through the absence of the creatures themselves, asking us to imagine a time and place where marine animals are the only survivors on a ruined planet. Whale watching (2019) uses the mediation of the screen to think about how the meanings of the sea-centred world-making we have inherited are a product of our long-held desire to get closer to these creatures, from captive environments to the slow erosional damage rendered by eco-tourism, all and often at the expense of their freedom, health or habitat. 

- Anna Ricciardi