Cara Flores

Who Owns The Ocean?

Multimedia Digital Installation

It seems that the white settler can not enjoy nature without conquering it or without objectifying the land and relegating the rest to nature for ornamental relief.” – Bani Amor, The Fragility of the Western Traveler  

The piers throughout the beaches in the Philippines are littered with bangkas or boats to host tourists around island hopping tours. These boats are similar in design to fishing boats commonly used by people around the island. With the advent of mass tourism, however, the bangkas have been redesigned to fit more people in order to tour larger groups around the seas. The Philippines is known significantly for it’s tropical beaches, and for the affordability of the experience for Western travelers. The waters of the Philippines are objects of paradise and boast many avenues for tourists to experience and exploit. While there are arguments made that tourism boosts the economy and generates jobs the very nature of tourism packages places into a marketable commodity. Thus it draws into question that when natural resources become readily consumable who does it  really belong to and who does it become for? 

Similarly, for purchase at any souvenir store in the Philippines are boxes of individually wrapped chocolate covered dried mangoes. A perfect souvenir, boxes of chocolate covered mangoes are a portable delicacy that, according to each box, carry the “sweet memories of Cebu.” Like the literal chocolate covered mangoes inside the mango boxes, the bangkas are designed to fit neatly into the boat holder placed inside of the Ocean box. 

Through my project I aim to draw the parallels between these two aspects of mass tourism, and the process in which they are a characteristic of modernity. Modernity of which I believe is characterized by commodification, mass production, and the corporatization of dreaming. 

Work can be accessed here:

Notes on Development: 

While Who Owns the Ocean? Was meant to be an installation in a physical space, the current situation moved me to think of displaying it online. I decided to transfer the concept to the digital sphere through a website experience. The concept is the process in which organic elements, in this case represented through the etching, are processed and commercialized into consumable goods. This etching was scanned and “processed” through a variety of digital software, from photoshop to illustrator. Through this the element of the ocean gets spliced up, digitized, and industrialized into a process that is easily reproducible and marketable. To display this the website is laid out to take the viewer through an order form, and even give them the option to “buy” the product!