For my upcycle project I wanted to do something more out of the ordinary and go for a niche aesthetic. The aesthetic I chose is called oceanpunk., which I also decided to pair with the minimalist aesthetic. Oceanpunk has many defining features and is somewhat of a combination or subset of more popular aesthetics such as steampunk. My aesthetic is focused on a post-apocalyptic world where ocean life rules the world. Due to many natural or man made disasters, oceans are more prevalent so humanity is forced to adapt. They travel and explore the ocean as that is their new livelihood, living in deep waters and ships. Most of the technology is steampunk related technology, which is retro futuristic tech inspired by, but not limited to 19th-century steam-powered machines. Some of the more notable mainstream games/ media related are Subnautica, Bioshock, and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. Although I did not decide this initially, I later decided to add the minimalist aesthetic to my project as I felt it would add to the ambiance of the scene I was trying to create. This aesthetic is generally involved with neutral colors, few distractions and calmness around it.

My original vision for this project focuses purely on the aesthetic and not really on functionality for my final product. What I had started with was the idea of a scuba tank at the bottom of the deep ocean, where the light doesn’t reach. This tank would be settled in the sand showing it has been there for a while, perhaps lost by a diver or dropped accidentally off a ship. The ocean floor would be all sand with some rocks and seaweed, and small fish swimming nearby showing the tank has been completely undisturbed for some time. This relates to the oceanpunk aesthetic with the tank being lost in a predominantly ocean driven society and the ocean background for the scene. I was going for minimalism with the serene surroundings of the tank, as I did not want to take away from the main centerpiece. 

To achieve my goals I went to the store to get some cheap paint, as well as picked up cardboard, plastics and cans from my recycling bin. I decided to go with acrylic paint as I read this would be the best for what I was trying to achieve. For the scene I wanted an all black background with the ocean floor painted to look like sand as mentioned before, which I was going to achieve with the large cardboard boxes I had. I decided to have the tank propped on a rock, again made with cardboard and paint. For the surrounding scene I was going to use the plastics to create fish and seagrass for the scene. In order to achieve the true goal of what I was going for, I was going to use my skills in photography and editing to truly make the scene come to life instead of just a cardboard box in my living room. As for the functionality of my project, the only plan I had was to keep it as an art piece that I could admire. As I started on the scene I slowly realized this was going to be much harder than initially anticipated. I have little background in painting and even after hours on youtube tutorials I was failing to get the look I was searching for. This was when I decided to switch gears and go a different direction.

For the past few years I have kept a fish tank but a couple of months ago I had a bad ammonia spike in the tank that unfortunately killed everything. At the time I decided to put it all up in storage but I realized this could be the perfect opportunity for my upcycle project. Since I had all of the materials, my tank, rocks, a filter, a heater, and a piece of wood, there was nothing I needed to buy for the project. I decided to go away from having fish in the scene as the scale would not work well with what I wanted to go for. Although I have since bought a few fish for the tank, I would not consider them a part of this project. One thing was missing though, some plants. I decided I would have to spend a few more bucks for the plants in the tank to make the scene look completely realistic. I did also keep the scuba tank idea for my project as I did not want to completely scrap that idea. For this I used a coke can and washed it out completely. I then cut the can and folded it into a cylinder and put a metal cap on it to make it look like a scuba tank. I made sure to use glue that is generally used for gluing plants to rocks and such in aquariums. I did decide to not paint the tank a different color as I felt this would not work out the way I wanted to but also I felt it still fit the aesthetic perfectly. To replicate my original idea I set the scuba tank in the rocks at the bottom. I set it against the piece of wood and surrounded it by plants as well. I used the background I was making for my painted scene and set it on the tank to make sure the sides and background would be dark enough for the ambiance. I then used a head lamp to light up the scuba tank and its surroundings as if you had the point of view of the diver exploring the ocean and came across this scuba tank in the deep waters. Although the final product wasn’t what I wanted to do when I went into the project, I felt as though it came out better than I had hoped and fit the aesthetics I was shooting for. 

Although this is a nice piece for my newly set up aquarium, I would certainly go back and change a few things. The first idea I have to improve would be to add pipes/dials to the tank to make it look more like a scuba tank. The biggest reason I didn’t decide to do this is because I was limited on time after actually setting up the aquarium. Another idea I had during this was potentially putting in a low pressure bubbler into the tank. This would represent the air leaking out of the tank as well as giving it a true function within the tank as water agitation is great for an aquarium. I would also find a way to paint it to fit more the steampunk part of oceanpunk as this is quite a crucial aspect of where it derives from. I have not yet decided if I will keep this in my tank or not, but I am definitely open to trying again someday with the lessons I have learned. This project has been a great starter to go into our main project, mostly in the aspect that I will make sure I can learn a new skill in time and it won’t be a nuisance in the creation of my project.


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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Cannon,

    I think your final product does give an apocalyptic ocean feel with the dark lighting and the bright light so you did a good job pivoting from your previous idea. I think it would be pretty cool to keep working on this oceanpunk design for your aquarium and fully develop it if you would want to keep some fish in there in the long term.

  • Cannon,
    I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate ammonia spike which killed your fish. My housemates and I just got a fish, and it would be a devastating blow to loose him. With that being said, I really enjoyed your final product. I was initially unfamiliar with the oceanpunk aesthetic, but your oxygen tank gave me a very good sense of the aesthetic.


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