Vincent Mock’s deep love for the ocean is apparent through his art where he explores the human disconnection from nature in an ironic way – sculpting ocean predators from the very fish hooks that threaten their survival. A fellow PADI Divemaster and artist, Mock has traveled and dived the world over. Here he discusses his Hooked on Life series.
Project AWARE (PA): When did you first merge your creative talents with your passion for the ocean?
Vincent Mock (VM): During my divemaster course in Mozambique, I had many conversations with instructors, biologists and local fishermen who all came to the same frightful conclusion: They were seeing less big fish than they used to. Even along the relatively pristine coastline of Mozambique, there were many stories of longline fleets fishing illegally within territorial waters. So even though I was seeing the most stunning corals, sharks and mantas on a daily basis, I couldn’t shake the sad feeling that I could be part of the last generation to do so.
Not long after, I saw a documentary about illegal longline fishing around the Galapagos Islands. I saw desperate conservationists haul in miles of fishing line with hundreds of hooks – along with dead and dying sharks, sea turtles, tunas and birds. I was appalled by this non-selective and destructive way of fishing and the fact that it was done in a protected area. It made me want to learn more about these huge global issues; Why was it happening and what was being done to stop it?
PA: Can you tell us more about your Hooked on Life series? It’s beautiful and ironic to sculpt endangered species using longline fishing hooks. What lead to the idea of using this medium?
VM: Working in conservation can be both extremely rewarding and frustrating at the same time. Especially when we are trying to protect a world that most people have only seen on their dinner plates. I tried to find a simple, age old symbol that everyone could relate to – the fish hook. I thought it would be an eye opener if I could make the beautifully evolved organic shapes of sharks and other oceanic species from the very material that is causing their demise.
I feel that fish hooks serve both as a symbol of human endeavor and of our relationship with nature. These ancient tools, hand crafted out of seashells, symbolize a time when we were in balance with our natural environment. However, nowadays, the same tool serves as a symbol for humans’ unwitting destruction of that same environment. With systematic precision, we deploy millions of longline hooks into international, unregulated waters. We are emptying the ocean at an alarming rate and upsetting the delicate balance of our marine environment.
PA: What message are you sharing with your art and how has the unique view beneath the surface contributed to your artistic direction?
VM: As with many, when I’m diving, a new world opens up for me. But knowing that this might all end within a generation is simply incomprehensible. I cannot imagine telling my grandchildren that we had the option to change, but chose to ignore it for the benefit of material wealth for a select few.
It’s difficult to tell people, who might not interact with the ocean in their daily lives, that they have to change the way they live or eat. I feel art is a medium that can trigger a change in awareness since it objectively influences the viewer. In the end, I don’t want to be remembered as part of the generation that had the opportunity to change, but just stood by and watched it happen. My goal for the Hooked on Life series is to find a way for it to be seen, and make a difference where it matters.
To follow and get inspired by Vincent Mock’s Hooked on Life series, visit www.vincentmock.com.