At the Intersection of Public Art and Journalism
One of the distinct things we do at The Outlaw Ocean Project is we leverage art for the purpose of accessing a different audience and tapping them in a different way. Our goal is to target a younger and more diverse public, while also engaging them on a more visceral level than is typically possible through written or video journalism. We do this by melding our reporting with music, animation, stage performance, stop motion and, now, muralism.
The Outlaw Ocean Mural Project assembles painters from around the globe to convey a sense of worry and wonder about what is happening at sea. Not unlike a literacy campaign, this project uses public art to raise cultural awareness and to bolster fluency about the watery two thirds of the planet. In their own aesthetic, through imagery that is at once captivating and critical, muralists in dozens of cities internationally have leveraged their talents to amplify the stories we report.
Presently, artists from Brazil, Chile, Ireland, UK, USA, Portugal, Germany and Spain are participating. Every several weeks we will publish new paintings online and disseminate them via social media. On the project website, each muralist has their own page, where visitors can watch a video showing the creative process and listen to each artist explain their motivations for joining the effort. If you'd like to visit the mural in person, each page offers an address for the location of the painting. As more muralists join the project, we will also post a global map.
The issues on display are urgent. A vast realm of astounding beauty, the oceans are also a dystopian frontier. They are home to dark inhumanities and dire industrial activities, where everything from murder and slavery to dumping and drilling routinely go unchecked. The oceans supply 50 percent of the air we breathe. They are a workplace to more than 50 million people. And yet, journalism about this vital place is a rarity. Hoping to change that, muralists are using art as an on-ramp into reporting and issues that deserve broader attention.
Though there is an inspiring level of innovation happening in journalism -- including how stories are framed, reported and presented -- there is less daring and creativity in terms of the tactics of distribution. Our view is that journalism, and quite especially the journalism produced in the developed west about the rest of the world, needs to deliver reporting in new ways, on new platforms. Most importantly, it needs to be aimed at and co-produced by new demographics.
By partnering with painters from around the world, and giving them the creative license to present the reported stories in their own way, our hope is to conscript cultural diplomats who will give our reporting new life and audience, especially in those places most impacted by the very concerns we chronicle.