The image below, taken by Coral Morphologic marine biologist Colin Foord, is beautiful. So beautiful that I wanted to post it here for purely aesthetic reasons. That said, its full beauty owes to more than mere appearance. What you see there is a coral nursery tree erected a few miles off the shore of Key Largo by the Coral Restoration Foundation for the purpose of transplantation back to the reef. It is a man-made structure built underwater in the service of nature and, consequently, in the service of man. That is the source of its beauty. To learn more about the CRF and its nursery, check out “(How To Grow) A Floating Forest” by Foord (whom I interviewed in August about the danger posed to a rare hybrid coral by the imminent Port of Miami Deep Dredge).
On Friday, 29-year-old marine biologist Colin Foord took scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), and upstate St. Petersburg’s Pier Aquarium out in his 1969 Boston Whaler to a sea wall on the Fisher Island side of Government Cut, the lane through which, every day, enormous cruise ships and shipping vessels travel to and from the Port of Miami.
The scientists had all crowded into Foord’s boat to see with their own eyes what Foord could not believe he was seeing with his two years earlier during one of his regular excursions through Miami’s inner city waterways: a hybrid coral of the genus Acropora that is rarely seen in South Florida waters, let alone in the harsh H2O of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the country.
“I’ve never seen a hybrid anywhere off the coast of Florida, and I’ve done thousands of dives,” says Foord, who is half of the duo behind Coral Morphologic, a Miami-based “scientific art endeavor” that conducts research in its Overtown laboratory, creates gorgeous imagery of coral via HD videography and site-specific projection, and raises money for coral restoration through its record label, Discosoma Records, which releases limited-edition vinyl records from South Floridian musicians.
“These researchers have not seen them here in Florida,” Foord adds. “They’ve heard of people finding them … but here in Florida they’re virtually absent.”
The scarcity of the coral — a hybrid of the Elkhorn and Staghorn species, both critically endangered branching corals formerly common to the Caribbean Sea — helps to explain Foord’s response when he first spotted it.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Oh my God’,” he says. “I thought it was a species from another ocean that someone had planted there.”
On Saturday night, ≈2,000 people packed the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall for the Borscht Film Festival (aka Borscht 7), three hours of for-Miami, by-Miami work commissioned by a group of brash cineastes who have assumed the lofty responsibility of forging Miami’s cinematic identity.
This was the festival’s seventh run, though only its second fully above ground. The last one, back in November 2009, drew 1,600 people to the Gusman Center to watch — possibly for the first time — Miami films not directed by Michael Bay or called Scarface. Which is what Borscht is all about: transcending, subverting, and, in some cases, warmly embracing the stereotypes that define Miami for millions of people in and outside of the city.
While the 2009 fest had its hiccups — the projector showing up two hours late, for example — it’d be hard to label it anything but a success. Besides the big crowd and the beautiful venue, several of its films eventually screened in the world’s most prestigious film festivals (Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca) and the Knight Foundation was impressed enough to give the Borscht crew, spearheaded by 24-year-old Lucas Leyva, 150,000 smackers for the next two years.
Thing is, I thought most of the films at the last Borscht were terrible, particularly the infantile Of Metrorails and Megasaurs, a tale of a little girl’s first visit to the Magic City that unironically depicted Miami like it was Magic Kingdom (there were animated dinosaurs). In fact, the only film I liked was Daniel Cardenas’s short animation “XEMOLAND”, which went on to screen at Sundance.
Still, I went into Borscht 7 with high hopes. With $150,000 to play around with and 18 months riding the learning curve, I had faith in the Dudes of Borscht to deliver on the hype, and in a lot of ways they did. First of all, they jammed the Arsht with the biggest young crowd I’ve ever seen at a homegrown Miami event. It was amazing to look around that grandiose space and see so many faces from the grimy clubs and dive bars around town. It felt, in a really empowering way, like the kids had taken over City Hall.
Thanks to the B Tapes for giving us the heads up on these new Awesome New Republic videos, filmed in Coral Morphologic Studios. An online video showcase, the B Tapes films independent musicians and bands “performing in low-key, intimate settings,” says B Tapes creator Andrea Franco. The crew is based in Los Angeles but also films in New York, Miami, and Peru. The three ANR videos are the B Tapes’ latest effort, and follow two Rachel Goodrich videos put out in November.
An acoustic version of “Endless Field of Mercury”, which we listed as the top South Florida song of 2010.