Summary, Objectives, and Work Packages

Visualizing the Deep Sea in the Age of Climate Change

Summary, Objectives, and Work Packages

Summary and objectives

Project Summary

Visualizing the Deep Sea in the Age of Climate Change (Deep Sea) is an interdisciplinary researcher project that brings humanities and social-science perspectives to bear on new and emerging marine technologies. The project asks how innovations in underwater sensors and robots open up a new frontier – the deep sea – for human exploration, expansion, and exploitation. It approaches marine technologies as media operations that institute new spaces of knowledge and action, and manage the human relationship with oceanic environments. The project examines the epistemic roles of these technologies, and their broader significance as enablers that allow the exploration of some of the last largely unknown areas on the planet for various types of purposes, ranging from new sources of food, energy, and minerals, via underwater cultural heritage, to environmental concerns relating to ocean heating and the imminent loss of marine biodiversity. The project investigates marine media operations along five interconnected lines: media-theoretical analyses of deep-sea remote sensing, marine-archaeological examinations of knowledge-production in unknown territories, social-anthropological ethnographies of control rooms for marine operations, art-historical investigations of the visual, historical, and economic dimensions of deep-sea explorations, and creative interventions that promote ocean literacy. The project is set up as a collaboration with the center of excellence Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS) and the Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory (AUR-Lab) at NTNU. 

Objectives of the Project

The main objective of the Deep Sea project is to contribute new knowledge about marine technologies as a driving force in societal changes pertaining to the ocean and to how humans relate to marine environments. It seeks to understand how marine technologies institute new knowledge and action spaces, and how they manage the human relationship with oceanic environments. This objective is reached through five sub-objectives: (1) to develop a conceptual framework for analyzing marine image operations as instances of remote sensing; (2) to develop heuristics for knowledge production in unknown underwater territories; (3) to map the settings of marine control rooms and compare them to other control-room settings (e.g., space operations); (4) to provide a deeper historical understanding of the socio-economic implications of today’s deep-sea mining activities; (5) to develop ocean literacy through creative projects and digital publications. 

Work Packages

Work Packages

Work Packages

WP1: Deep-Sea Sensing

Objective: To establish a conceptual framework for theorizing and analyzing marine media operations that involve remote sensing and machine vision. This includes devising methods that bring out the specific knowledge and action spaces established by marine media operations, and the transactions between machine sensors and human observers, with a focus on operations involved in the monitoring of climate change.
Responsible: Aurora Hoel.

WP2: Deep-Sea Exploration

Objective: To develop heuristics for scientific knowledge production in unknown underwater territories. Long-duration operations for exploration and mapping in very deep waters require high reliance on automated procedures limiting the possibilities for a human in the loop, something that raises epistemological issues whether human scientific decision-making can be translated to machines. 
Responsible: Øyvind Ødegård.



WP3: Deep-Sea Control

Objective: To map the settings of marine control rooms and compare them to other control-room settings (e.g., space operations). This includes attention to the consequences of the prevailing control practices in terms of the boundaries they impose on nature and the articulations and ideas of nature that result from these. This work package analyzes data obtained through document analysis, literature reviews, interviews, and participant observation of deep-sea control operation, with a view to compare the different ways the deep sea is articulated, divided, and categorized.
Responsible: Jens Røyrvik.

Work Packages 2

WP4: Deep-sea Prospecting

Objective: To provide deeper historical understanding of the epistemological and socio-economic implications of today’s deep-sea prospecting activities. The work package seeks to disclose the historical depth and significance of today’s marine-technological ventures, which now turn the depths of the oceans into a surface to occupy. It approaches this objective with a historically comparative methodology that situates current developments in deep sea resource exploration within the larger visual history of (corporate) colonialism and the rise of global capitalism.
Responsible: Pasi Väliaho.

WP5: Deep-Sea Fabulation

Objective: To promote ocean literacy through creative and artistic projects that raise awareness about how human existence depends on the ocean, and that inspire people to care for ocean health. These creative and artistic projects include the making of a deep-sea fabulation video essay, a deep-sea landscapes experiment, a deep-sea simulation, and a final exhibition.
Responsible: Ilona Hongisto.





The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway for the period of 2023–2027.