Many of us are disconnected from the beauty of swamps and the vital role they play in filtering water, fostering life, and buffering storms. Today, coastal development, pollution, and sea-level rise are threatening these invaluable landscapes. One of the biggest threats to swamps is a human disconnect from the environment and a lack of understanding of the role that swamps play in human survival. In a time of accelerated change and unpredictable weather, it has never been more important to look, listen, and learn from the swamps around us.
This is especially true for South Florida, home to the Everglades, one of largest swamps in the world. Up until 1900, all of South Florida was one big swamp. To make way for development, the city drained the swamp and diverted the natural water flow, changing its essential water filtering and supply system forever. A rapid expansion of urbanization and agricultural growth has led to a host of environmental problems, making the Everglades a skeleton of what it once was. We can’t turn back the clock, but we can learn to co-exist with our disappearing swamps and find ways to negotiate a fast-changing future.
Through passionate local guides, immersive landscapes, and an interactive Swamp Symphony, this documentary project leads users into the depths of Florida’s swamps and to the people who care about them. This website is a companion to our VR project.
The SwampScapes website was developed by documentary and interactive design students from the University of Miami.
Elizabeth Miller & Kim Grinfeder with Juan Carlos Zaldivar
Grant E Bemis, Elizabeth Miller, Deborah Vanslet
Yaxu Hu, Elizabeth Miller, Deborah VanSlet
Grant E Bemis
WEB DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
Mike Davis – Lead Developer
Melissa Gutierrez – SwampSymphony Design
SWAMP SYMPHONY SOUND
MAP & GUIDE DESIGN
360 VIDEO EDIT AND SOUND
Lorenzo Ponce de Leon
Laura Martinez, Elizabeth Miller, Savannah Geary
Lorenzo Ponce de Leon
Aaron Nunez Zaller
Grant E. Bemis
VIRTUAL REALITY FILM AND INTERACTIVE
PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY
Elizabeth Miller, Juan Carlos Zaldivar, Kim Grinfeder
INTERACTIVE DIRECTOR, VR CINEMATOGRAPHER
Juan Carlos Zaldivar
Juan Carlos Zaldivar, Liz Miller, Candace Barbot
Reverend Houston R. Cypress
Rita and Eric Bauer
Aaron Nunez Zaller
Heather Scaza Acosta
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
CREW Land & Water Trust
Florida Gulf Coast University
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
We thank all those involved who are tireless advocates for the Everglades.
CREATED WITH SUPPORT FROM
University of Miami School of Communication
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Center for Communication, Culture & Change
FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES
Affective Ecologies: Empathy Emotion and Environmental Narratives by Alexa Weik von Mossner
Mirage by Cynthia Barnett
Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Tomorrow’s Biodiversity, Vandana Shiva
The Everglades River of Grass, by Marjory Stoneman Douglas
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell.
Gladesmen: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboys, http://www.gladesmenfilm.com
Download our Guide:
Our goal for this multi-platform documentary project is to promote "swamp literacy" by fostering awareness of the Everglades and the role that swamps play in human survival. SwampScapes incorporates four unique and connected media platforms.
- Website: This site features short video portraits, 360 landscapes, and an interactive Swamp Symphony where users can listen to swamp sounds and create their own swamp compositions.
- VR Linear Film: A guided journey to the Everglades, one of the most diverse swamps in the world. From the tree tops of urban swamps to the remote sloughs of the Fakahatchee swamp, users will immerse themselves in stunning landscapes and discover some of the passionate protectors of Florida’s swamps. Meet Betty, a Miccosukee water activist who runs her own airboat business and Donna, a raptor biologist who monitors hawk nests to prevent extinction. Follow Larry, an algae expert, who calls attention to the frightening long-term impacts of polluted water or Win, a disturbance ecologist speaking to human caused disturbances. SwampScapes involves seven unique sites.
- Interactive VR documentary: An interactive experience of our seven unique scapes permitting viewers to choose their own path.
- Photo installation: Our photo exhibit accompanies the VR project and challenges viewers to consider their own mediated relationship to the swamp.
Check out the Exhibit Photos.