Skip to main content

Joe Riley




Joe Riley is a research-based artist and historian pursuing a Ph.D. in Art History, Theory and Criticism (Art Practice Concentration) and the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

His writing, grounded in archival research and fieldwork, focuses on the hydro-politics of knowledge, inclusion, and documentation in the ocean sciences, the commodification of ocean life forms such as kelp, and the design and engineering of seacraft, navigational systems, and instruments. With the artist Audrey Snyder, he designs and builds large-scale sculptural installations that reverse-engineer vessels and instruments such as cars and boats, and infrastructures such as railroads and maritime shipping networks. Their work together and as collaborators with the collective Futurefarmers has been exhibited at venues including The Bowtie Project (Los Angeles), Socrates Sculpture Park (New York), Artes Mundi 7, and Sharjah Biennale 13. Alongside marine ecologist Danielle McHaskell, Joe and Audrey are engaged in a Getty Pacific Standard Time project that references the transportation of seaweed biota in contemporary cargo ship ballast tanks, and speculatively re-thinks the laboratory work ethic through the re-design of the research bench as a rocking chair ecosystem in which rest and contemplation generate growth.

As a 2021-22 Fellow of the Institute for Practical Ethics at UC San Diego, Joe is researching the hydro-ethics of race and gender and the problem of documentation in oceanography, focusing on the career of ichthyologist Anita Smith Hall (1911-1999). Previously he was an Ocean Fellow with TBA21-Academy’s Ocean Space in Venice, Italy (2020), a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program (2016-17), Art & Law Program (2018), Interdisciplinary Art & Theory Program (2018-19), and was a student organizer with Free Cooper Union. He holds a BFA from Cooper Union (2013) and has taught at the Cooper Union School of Art, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Bruce High Quality Foundation University.