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Artist completes artificial reef, 'The Silent Evolution,' installing 400 sculptures underwater


Artist Jason deCaires Taylor recently completed work on one of the most surreal and awe-inspiring artificial reefs I've seen.

"The Silent Evolution" is the final and most ambitious of four stages of an underwater museum and consists of 400 permanent life-size sculptures forming a monumental artificial reef in Cancun/Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

DeCaires Taylor said in an e-mail release that "the road has been long -- taken 18 months, required 120 tons of cement, sand and gravel, 3,800m of fiberglass, 400kg of silicone, 8,000 miles of red tape, 120 hours working underwater and $250,000," adding that "sculpting close to the mangroves Evo2 in Puerto Morelos the team received over 2,500 mosquito bites, tabano bites, fire ant stings and more than 20 nips from Damsel fish during installations in the sea."

Located in the National Marine Park of Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Punta Nizuc, the environmentally friendly reef -- each of the sculptures is made from specialized materials used to promote coral life -- was constructed with the cooperation of marine park officials and the Cancun Nautical Assn. in an effort to promote the recovery of nearby natural reefs. The hope is to give visitors an alternative to the Cancun Marine Park, one of the most visited stretches of water in the world, with more than 750,000 visitors each year.

DeCaires Taylor thoughtfully dedicates this installation to his parents, Christine and Roy, saying they "have been the bow that fired this arrow, providing both foundations and support, regardless of all circumstances. You really have been the cornerstone and catalyst to change ideas into reality, and for this I will be eternally grateful."

He adds that, though all the statues are now in place, the reef is still a work in progress:

"I would also like to point out that this installation is by no means over and the second phase is dependant on nature's artists of the sea, to nurture, evolve and apply the patina of life."

The video below captures the allure and mystery of the new underwater exhibit, with the accompanying music certainly adding to the ambiance.


-- Kelly Burgess

Photos: Artist Jason deCaires Taylor recently completed installation of "The Silent Evolution" artificial reef. Credit: Jason deCaires Taylor. Video from DeCaires Taylor via YouTube.


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Comments (4)

Stunning, a living prayer of hope. I discovered this truly awe-inspiring, monumental undertaking and that poignant angelic child soon after a beloved, beautiful but so troubled soul in one heart-breaking instant paused only a moment before leaping over the side of the bridge into the Penobscot River, named after her own First Nations people. I think I wil always think of that child's face when I think of her.

Beautiful!! It seems by the photos that the making of the reef has already begun. Wonderful artist. Now, keep tourist from damaging it.

This is an awesome spectacle, a must dive for everyone and one day it will be all covered in coral, amazing video. Well Done.

This is wonderful, providing it does not interrupt any existing 'reef'. Any thing that can help maintain the beauty and life of the coral reefs near Cancun/Isla Mujeres, is needed. Way too much tourism is damaging the area, both under the water and above.

John Crawford, Los Angeles


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.