Layered Horizons

Sailors use fathom lines to navigate shallow channels and ports. On nautical charts, these measurements appear as sinuous curves that mark the depth of water, indicating the contour of the ocean floor. Some flat areas of the sea bottom, which have constant depth, are known by their fathom number, like the Broad Fourteens or the Long Forties, both in the North Sea. Polish-born photographer Magda Biernat, who is based between New York and Paris, is interested in the oceans and how they connect to one another. Biernat urges us to view them as a whole unit – that covers more than 70% of the Earth – rather than as five separate entities. The idea is that we understand their shared, interdependent role in establishing the movement of currents, heat exchange and storms. “Fathom Lines is a continuation of my fascination with the sea. By overlaying images of different bodies of water, and by depicting a relative calm and evenness of sea and sky, I hope to correct the misconception that the ocean is a combination of disconnected bodies.” Here, seascapes are cut and pasted, with sky blue squares intersecting with navy and shades of grey.

All images courtesy Magda Biernat, from Fathom Lines.