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Nina Sarnelle


Lost Shark, 2019

Video & music, 6:18 min.

Lost Shark utilizes song as a learning tool and AI-generated imagery to memorialize species that were casualties of the 6th Mass Extinction: mammals, birds, and reptiles. This collaboration with the more-than-human uses AI imagery generated from the species’ English common name to capture a frenetic state of searching in the trees, streams, and neural networks. Sarnelle asks: “How can we* begin to commemorate beings that we know so little about? To ‘say their names’ in an arbitrary (colonizer’s) language means nothing to them. How do we even know when a species is truly gone? And of the life forms lost that were never ‘discovered’ in the first place? We'll never know what we don't know…”

Note from the artist: the term ‘we’ is contextually limited, reflecting a dominant Western, colonial, white supremacist scientific stance — not a universal one. I address this due to my proximity and influence. Other ‘we’s globally may engage distinctively with non-human/extinct species, carrying varied climate responsibility. These diverse perspectives could be vital for planetary survival.


Nina Sarnelle makes research projects, participatory performances, music composition, video and sculpture. They hold degrees from Oberlin College and Carnegie Mellon University. Her work has been shown at the New Museum (NY), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Hammer Museum (LA), Getty Center (LA), Ballroom Marfa (TX), MoMA (NY), Istanbul Modern (Turkey), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin), Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (Lisbon), Fundacion PROA (Buenos Aires), Black Cube (Denver), UNSW Galleries (Sydney), Project 88 (Mumbai), Mwoods (Beijing), and Human Resources (LA).

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