Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, arises from the depths of the ocean with a look of revenge in his eyes. He is angered by the amount of filth floating in his realm and is prepared to send a powerful message to the world: No Dumping!  In this image, Tiago da Silva has created a digital work of art that incites a reaction to the growing problem of ocean pollution by revealing the environmental harm, frustration, and its harmful effect on the world. The viewer is immediately captivated by the familiarity of the mythological Olympian, who stands in the foreground of the artwork surrounded by four pillars, personifying the sea.  Poseidon is tightly gripping his trident, and on the spears of his trident are a rag and an old Coca Cola can, dripping and spilling out water. Upset by this provocation, Poseidon stands with his left hand raised, symbolic of hand-to-hand combat. Although the sun is not visible in the image, the clear skies reflect the color of the water; therefore, it can be inferred that the sun is shining. This reflection also sheds additional light on some of the litter sinking into the ocean, accentuating the theme of Tiago’s image.

Due to the environmental harm pollution causes, Poseidon faces a few challenges to his survival. According to the myth, Poseidon used his trident to make tidal waves that sometimes caused massive earthquakes but also saved ships by mysteriously calming the seas.  Knowing this, I believe Tiago purposely obstructed Poseidon’s trident with an aluminum Coca Cola can to imply how harmful pollution can be, in terms of the damage it would cause Poseidon if he tries to use his trident. The Coca Cola can also provides an early allusion of human society’s role in causing this issue. The second obstruction is probably more of an interference meant to reflect the trident’s inability to serve its magical purpose. The other pieces of trash we find floating around Poseidon possibly provide additional visual elements of the images primary focus on pollution. But if you pay attention to the close proximity of the other pieces of trash in relation to Poseidon, this juxtaposition reveals how the litter might impede Poseidon’s mobility. In Tiago’s image, Poseidon may have pushed the full bag of trash behind him and picked up the lighter and brush to toss aside because they both appear to be falling as if they were recently thrown into the water.

Tiago stresses the environmental frustration of pollution through very distinct features of Poseidon’s design, which must be important because they suggest a reaction from the sea to the aforementioned challenges. The strong grip with which Poseidon uses on his trident flexes the muscles on his right arm, providing one indication that Poseidon is on the verge of releasing his wrath to return order in his realm. His shoulders are pushed back, and his chest is moderately pumped out. Tiago positions Poseidon’s body in an angle to the right, giving the audience the feeling that he is in the defensive because this type of stance allows you to maintain balance and provide momentum when striking. Another implication of Poseidon’s anger towards the pollution might be from the look on his face and how his mouth appears to be open, possibly drawing deep breaths. When one is upset, your heart tends to beat faster and your breathing rate is increased. The breathing pattern is noticeable by the intricate detail of Poseidon’s physique. His diaphragm is visible to the viewer in the image and gives a sense that Poseidon is breathing heavily.

Poseidon’s frustration exhibits the strength of the sea’s resolve to warn the world of the consequences for contaminating the ocean. The pillars in the background of the image look similar to the Doric order of the ancient Greek architectural organizational system. Simply, the Doric order was sturdy and the top part of the pillar, known as the capital, was plain. It is possible Tiago used this pillar style in his image to establish the sea as Poseidon’s royal domain. The fact that the Doric order was sturdy reflects Tiago’s assertion of Poseidon’s strength. What is also interesting about the four pillars is their position. We can conclude that ocean pollution is a global problem because the pillars are not directly behind Poseidon but off to the side in a way that is three-dimensional and representative of four corners, which is synonymous for every part of the world.

Tiago, an advocate on environmental issues, used the authoritative figure of Poseidon to influence our thoughts on pollution in the ocean. The message Tiago tries to transmit through this visual text is clearly that pollution in the ocean is harmful and causes difficulty for sea life to live in their habitat. It is often said that every action has a reaction; in that light, unless we want to experience Poseidon’s vengeance we should heed his warning. Pollution in the ocean may cause a rise in surface temperature and give way to hurricanes, providing final evidence of Tiago’s purpose in creating this artwork, especially since all of the elements are at the surface level.  Ironically, Hurricanes would cause more damage to sea life and watercraft by hindering or destroying a way of life for all of us who rely on the vast amount of resources we receive from the ocean. This situation would prove why ocean pollution is a global problem.


Due to copyright concerns, please visit The Art of Tiago da Silva website to view the image used for this visual analysis.