The Humanities Institute, UCSC
Winner: Saul Villegas, “Deep-Sea Coral II” (Art, 2nd year)
Villegas submitted an impressive in-progress portfolio of digitally altered archival photographs of the deep sea. He notes that the work “reimagines the deep-sea dives as an opportunity to visualize the abstract nature of the ocean.” Focusing specifically on coral, Villegas explains, gives us access, “in their protein-based branches,” to a kind of storytelling through time. The committee selected Villegas as last year’s runner-up based on a different project, and they selected him as the undergraduate winner this year for his creative use of archival photographs, his ability to produce compelling images through “speculative design,” his articulation of an eco-centric perspective in the lens of perception and, most importantly perhaps, his creative ability to bring science and art together in a compelling narrative and set of images.