Life After Tourism (2018)



(Speculative) installation / mariculture / research / exhibition / education.

More than even in human history, the era of  “the Anthropocene” (or “the Capitalocene”) provides opportunities for extreme scenarios, not in some far but rather in the near future, i.e. the mid- 21stcentury. The intention of the project was to use speculative design approach (so called Mediterranean speculative approach) in order to present possible alternative scenarios for the expected climate futures, or the scenarios that could prepare us for such post-apocalyptic future. The intention was also to try to provide methods and tools that might assist individuals and the community in the construction of life after the disaster.

2055 (the Background)

Global climate change in the second half of the 21stcentury have accumulated and resulted in extreme changes of life and economic conditions in the eastern parts of the Adriatic. The end of the second decade brought about record temperatures measured in the Adriatic Sea. Summer air temperatures, that rarely fell under 35 degrees Celsius, extreme droughts with more than 40 dry days, raised the number and the intensity of disastrous fires along the coastline.

Extreme climate conditions and the state of the environment lead to all-encompassing changes in lifestyles in the eastern parts of the Adriatic. What used to be one of the most desirable parts of Europe in terms of climate and economy, nowadays faces a complete collapse. Split, a historical city located in the east of the Adriatic that used to be a very important industrial centre mostly known for its large shipyard through the transition in the end of the 20thand the first quarter of the 21stcentury had to completely change the way of life to become a city whose economy entirely relied on tourism. From 2030 to 2045, tourism, as one of the basic economic sectors in this geographic region, disappeared completely. Migration wave that had started with the collapse of tourism and economies of a number of cities on the Adriatic ended by the end of  2050s. During that period, a large portion of the population fled towards the in-land and the northern parts of Europe.

Those who stayed have started developing new lifestyles in their attempt to rebuild urban life in old historical towns and cities. For them, life after the disaster, or life after tourism represents a new industrial beginning but not in the way it had been organised previously (tied to large industrial giants), but rather through a network of small crafts and production. They see rising sea levels and penetration of sea water inside of the historical city core as an advantage and opportunity for the future. Historical city centres are becoming miniature bases for new forms of food production. This self-initiated development of site-specific economy through a number of bottom-up projects and vernacular design, resulted in many citizens’ decision to return to the Adriatic region.

Peristil, the central ancient square in Split, thanks to its predispositions (paved pathways and stone walls, moderate isolation, proximity of buildings suitable for providing logistics, etc.) becomes one of the city farms for the new mariculture. Extreme climate conditions proved bearable for a number of resistant sea organisms, first of all, unicellular algae, brine shrimps and sea anemones. Therefore, as the central square of the historical urban core, Peristil was converted into a farming pool and divided into several parts: one-celled algae are grown in plastic bags hanging from the columns, the parterre contains two shrimp pools and a sea anemone pool. Surrounding buildings are used for production: drying, preserving, packaging and preparation for distribution. Cultivation and production primarily use discarded materials from “the times of tourism” (wine-making/vineyards, olive oil production, catering etc..) as well as traditional and long-forgotten knowledge from the “pre-tourist times” (e.g. traditional food preservation methods). Citizens are organised in small cooperatives taking care of joint processing and marketing of new products as it was the case long time ago with wine and olive oil producers.

Unicellular algae (Tetraselmis chui)

Together with other microorganism, unicellular algae are the basis of the food pyramid in aquatic ecosystems. Each alga cell utilises nutrient salts (inorganic compounds) and with the aid solar energy generates organic substance and oxygen. The possibility of utilising unicellular algae for simple cultivation has been researched long since. As a result of their elevated nutritional value, they are used in the cultivation of early developmental stages of bivalves, crustaceans and fish in aquaculture. Athletes as well as many people struggling with anaemia consume spirulina because it is rich in protein and iron. Also, the possibility of utilising unicellular algae to produce oxygen for the purpose of colonializing other planets has been researched as well.  Unicellular algae area also mass-produced for biodiesel.

Brine shrimp (Artemia salina)

Artemia salina is a species of shrimp using a form of protection and inhabiting more extreme biotopes, such as salt works. Resistant and adaptable, it can survive the salinity of up to 35 %. In extremely adverse conditions, Artemia salina produces parthenogenetic populations in which males are not necessary for the propagation of the species. They grow easily and quickly, breed often, and have a high nutrient value. They are used as food for farmed fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. Some Bedouin tribes in North Africa use dried brine shrimps found in desert salt lakes near oases for food.

Sea anemona (Anemonia viridis)

Sea anemone looks similar to seaweed and is classified in the phylum Cnidaria. Anemonia viridis is an animal living mostly along the Mediterranean coastline (periodic rises and falls in the level of the sea). It inhabits shallow waters, attached to a rock and uses tentacles (that can grow to be up to 15 cm long) to catch passing small fish or crustacean larvae. The toxin from cnidocytes in the sea anemone can irritate human skin. Sea anemone is a well-known delicacy, in taste similar to calamari but rarely used for food nowadays. Sea anemone is rich in protein and vitamins and traditionally consumed in Andalusia, Sardinia and Sicily.

At the project presentation (exhibition opening at The Musem of Fine Arts, Split), the chefs from the ACMER association prepared and demonstrated new culinary potentials of the mariculture of the near future (sea anemone risotto), and during the exhibition the experts from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries organised an educational workshop for the students and high school pupils at the atrium of the Museum of Fine Arts (open for public) on the topic of practical and interesting aspects of technological procedures in cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products.

Fried sea anemone (a traditional recipe)

Rinse sea anemones and leave in drinking or seawater overnight to clean. Take sea anemones out of water and set to dry on a dry cloth. Roll sea anemones in flour (of choice) and fry in hot oil. When fried, add some salt and paper and serve with olive oil, vinegar/lemon juice, lettuce or a sauce.

Sea anemone and mullet bottarga risotto (chef Hrvoje Zirojević)

Rinse freshly caught sea anemone to clean from pebbles and sludge. Sauté the onions in the olive oil, add some parsley and leaves of sea lettuce (ulva) cut in pieces 2-3 cm long and then put five pieces of sea anemone. Briefly braise the mixture, add the white wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Add the rice and cook it until translucent and then add the fish stock. Cook for 10 minutes and add the remaining sea anemones. Cook for another 15 – 18 minutes until you risotto is cooked. Squeeze some lemon juice and add the olive oil. Immediately before serving, grate a few pieces of mullet bottarga (cured fish roe). You can also add some more olive oil.

15 – 20 anemones
2 dag of onion
1 dag of parsley
10 dag of rice
0.4 dl of olive oil
1 dl of white wine
5 – 6 leaves of sea lettuce (ulva)
4 – 5 grated pieces of mullet bottarga
fish stock
freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/4 of a lemon)
salt and paper to taste

Installation (mariculture)

Necessary equipment and materials:

– grape bags (app. 30 kg)
– aquarium heaters
– aquarium air pumps with air dispersers and regulation valves
– aquarium (app. 35 litres)
– jugs, wine decanters (app. 25 litres)
– wire fence
– mineral NPK fertiliser (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) 20-10-10
– neon/LED lamps

System installation

Unicellular algae have to be bred in plastic bags (bags used for picking grapes) and sterilised (boiled) seawater. You can use the algae in small test tubes found in laboratories selling live algae, get them from a hatchery or buy the algae at an aquarium shop. Some species of microalgae can be isolated from the nature with the use of a micro-tubes or a microscope. Those algae are then poured into sterilised seawater. The frame is made of wire fence inserted in bags used for picking grapes. The bag containing the seawater with the algae must also hold a water heater (set to the temperature of 22 – 25 ˚C at the maximum) and an air pump with a sprinkler. The lamps are placed outside of the bag, next to the wire frame.

Brine shrimps are bred in two jugs/decanters filled with sterilised (boiled) seawater. Two containers actually correspond to their two life stages. Each container with seawater and brine shrimps has to also hold a water heater (set to the temperature of 22 – 25 ˚C at the maximum) and an air pump with a sprinkler. Brine shrimps (Artemia salina) can be found as eggs/cysts (add one tea spoon in the container with the sterilised seawater).

Sea anemones are put inside of an aquarium together with seawater. They have to be taken out from the sea together with the stone to which they are attached (in order to avoid damage while collecting from the sea or during the process of removal from the stone to which they are attached). The aquarium has to hold a water heater (set to the temperature of 22 – 25 ˚C at the maximum).

Feeding process and system maintenance

The above sea organisms form elements of a food chain/a cycle. The algae grow by way of utilising the mineral fertiliser and light and serve as food for brine shrimps, which are then food for sea anemones. Every two to three days, it is necessary to add a teaspoon of mineral fertiliser for the algae. After that, it is also necessary to add about a half of a decilitre of algae (a mixture of sea water and the algae) to brine shrimps. It is also advisable to add some fresh seawater (sterilised or boiled) every four or five days in order to compensate for the evaporated seawater. Unicellular algae and brine shrimps can also be used as food.

This system was functioning for one month at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries and for an additional month at The Museum of Fine Arts in Split. During the period, the existing sea anemones have grown and multiplied.

Musem of Fine Arts, Split /// 16/10. – 6/11/2018

Ivica Mitrović and Oleg Šuran

Photography and video:
Darko Škrobonja

Prostorne Taktike d.o.o.

In collaboration with:
Leon Grubišić and Luka Čulić / Melita Peharda Uljević, Ivica Vilibić and Sanja Matić-Skoko / Iva Žužul, Ivana Lepen Pleić and Igor Talijančić (Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Split) /// Alma Harašić Bremec and Željko Neven Bremec (ACMER, Split)

Arts Academy, University of Split

Kristina Tešija

Mirna Herman Baletić

Special Credits:
Musem of Fine Arts, Split

Maks Škabar and Luciana Škabar

Project was supported by the City of Split and was part of the Interakcije 2018 — Speculative Design Workshop: Life After Disaster.