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OCEAN / UNI ~ Culturing the Deep Sea

Towards a common heritage for allkind


Admission fee
Free of charge
Open Call

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Sessions will be held in English

Between October and December 2023, OCEAN / UNI will dive towards the deep sea, adopting a cross-disciplinary lens to think from the furthest spaces of our planet’s expansive bodies of water.

By interrogating the idea of the deep sea as a commons and a space of shared value, easily translatable to economic wealth and benefits, the Fall semester works to re-state the deep sea as a living reality saturated with meaning and foundational to life itself: as a metaphor for the unknown, a place where exciting creatures flourish and meaning sprouts, now critically threatened by the opaque shadow of deep-sea mining. This new exploration and mining frontier is a horizontal one, thousands of meters below the sea surface and portrayed by extractivists as a “potato field” or “underwater desert”, ready to be harvested for the common good. Yet, the deep ocean and the seabed are rich with diverse and unknown life, thriving around vents, ridges, plains, and seamounts.

The more-than-human eyes, arms, and minds entangled within deep-sea industry are not only creaturely, but robotic: unmanned remote controlled vehicles ready to thresh the seabed, or even handpick individual nodules.[1] The mining industry presents this post-human vision as less invasive and technologically infallible, plunging to the deepest depths to reach the greatest entrepreneurial heights. Despite the continued innovation of new technologies, the resourcification[2] of the deep sea only replicates centuries-old modes and models of exploitation within a “very particular vision of planetary management”, with the Ocean at the forefront of this fight for a new approach to ecosystem management and planetary governance at large.[3]

Framing the fight against this renewed extractivist assault upon one of the four global commons from an interdisciplinary, culture-led approach, we want to assemble a diverse front that takes an affective, community-led approach to care and custodianship of the deep seas. Cultural relations with the deep seabed make it so much more than a “common heritage of mankind” to be partitioned and extracted from to provide short-term profit for a small number of humans. What would it take to maintain a thriving deep sea and seabed, and ultimately a future in which the Earth remains a liveable planet for allkind?

Through a series of 5 live online lectures and interactive “activations” held with diverse speakers—from scientists to artists, from lawyers and policymakers to activists and Indigenous leaders - Culturing the Deep Sea: Towards a common heritage for allkind aims to think around the constructions and representations that shape human–Ocean relations, and look to art and critical thinking to raise alternatives. Through collective unlearning as a radical act of deep ocean literacy, we hope to empower ourselves as a community to intervene in dynamic decision-making environments around deep-sea mining that proceed alongside the program.


[1] For reference, see the technologies proposed by The Metals Company and Impossible Metals.

[2] See Johan Hultman et al., “A resourcification manifesto: Understanding the social process of resources becoming resources”, in Research Policy, vol. 50 n. 9, 2021. Accessible online.

[3] See Irus Braverman, “Robotic Life in the Deep Sea”, in Blue Legalities: The Laws and Life of the Sea, pp.147-164, Duke University Press, 2020.


The program is intended for anyone eager to deepen their relations with the ecological, political, aesthetic, ethical, and scientific knowledges around the realities and futures of the Ocean. Lectures will be held in English, so a good listening and speaking level is recommended to ensure meaningful exchange.

Participants are required to register for their attendance to the program online via Zoom.You are welcome to register in advance for more than one session. If you attend five sessions or more, you will receive an official certificate of attendance.



OCEAN / UNI is an initiative dedicated to art, activism,and science that invites fluid thinking with the Ocean as a way to move beyond the binaries of land and sea. OCEAN / UNI's curriculum provides students, researchers, and the public access to wide-ranging ideas and explorations through regular live sessions, reading groups, small-scale workshops or activations, and other online material, free and accessible to everyone on Ocean-Archive.org

Aiming to complement and enhance land-based understanding of the Earth, it covers a wide range of ecological, political, aesthetic, ethical, and scientific topics around the realities and futures of the Ocean.


Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 6pm CET
Session 1
Prologue: To care for the deep sea

October, 14-15 2023
SPECIAL MOMENT: Deep Ocean Listening by Lindsay Dawn Dobbin and David Barclay is streaming from Nocturne Festival, Halifax, Canada! Find more details on this page. This project will interact with our semester on Activation 3, November 15, 2023.

ACTIVATION1 | 18 October 2023
A reading group centered on “Blue Legalities: The Laws and Life of the Sea”, ed. Irus Braverman, Elizabeth R. Johnson

Wednesday, October 25 ottobre, 6pm CET
Sessione 2
A Remote Commons: Deep-sea mining and redesigning common heritage

ACTIVATION 2 | November 1, 2023
Shaping the Invisible, videomaking and montage workshop with Lara Garcia Reyne: filmmaker and editor, her collaborations include work with John Akonfrah, Lilian Lijn and institutions like Tate Media and the Hayward Gallery.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 6pm CET
Session 3
Washing the Sea in Green and Blue: Mineral solutions for energy transition?

ACTIVATION 3 | November 15, 2023
Deep Ocean Listening with Lindsay Dawn Dobbin (artist) and David Barclay (acoustic oceanographer) based on listening, recording and sound art. See more information about their project here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023, 6pm CET
Session 4
Deep Theater: The International Seabed Authority as a performative space​

November, 24-26, 2023
SPECIAL MOMENT: Live workshop at Porto Design Biennale, led by Patricia Esquete and Alison Neilson

ACTIVATION 4 | November 29, 2023

Wednesday, December 6, 2023, 6 pm CET
Session 5
Ocean as Library of Ideas: Complex systems at sea

ACTIVATION 5 | December 13, 2023
In this activation, we will regroup with the participants of the Porto Design Biennale workshop, presenting the projects and further developing them, opening the floor for community members to join.


The fall semester of OCEAN / UNI 2023 is curated by Pietro Consolandi, OCEAN / UNI Research Lead; Mekhala Dave, Ocean Law & Policy Researcher; Fiona Middleton, Research and Community; Khadija Stewart, Environmentalist; in dialogue with artist and curator Taloi Havini; and developed with Aleksandra Czerniak, Digital Project & Transformation Manager; Michal Kučerák, Head of Digital Research; Petra Linhartová; Director of Digital & Innovation; and Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21. Graphic design: Lana Jerichová. Carefully produced by the TBA21–Academy team.