Frame grab of a three-channel video depicting altered views of the ocean filmed at the same location. Differences in the images are to lead the viewer to recognize patterns.

Elise Stephens

Wave Counter


A middle aged woman sitting on a sandy beach with her back to the camera on a sunny day. She appears to be looking at the ocean in front of her.

Script 1


We are beings with at once fragile and resilient senses.

Each of us have a threshold that is tested by auditory and visual stimuli that are seemingly constant.

Silence is a luxury. Silence requires an investment in time and attention.

“Best way to think of a beach is a river of sand…it’s always flowing. Always moving.” – maybe wave counter’s voice


when I returned … sat down …. and attempted to make sense of the choppy seas, I was overwhelmed.

I expected an ocean landscape to look different, but familiar enough that I could get my bearings –

see the swells or lack of swells I saw before and make a comparison.

Now, when I look at waves, I think about the waves as they are, rotations in place, not as moving horizontally-

my way of thinking has changed.

while watching the video from one trip while listening to the audio from another I am folding in three different time dimensions.

This is to understand something that is timeless and eternal.

We hope that the waves and the ocean and we will always be in motion.

A three-channel video piece displayed as a triptych of monitors each with a view of the ocean. Each sit within a weathered wooden structure attached to a wall. All channels of the sea are recorded at the same location in New England. On an adjacent wall, documentation of my research fills in the questions posed by the abstract piece of video/sound art. Programming of three computers with the piwall language route the video to the three monitors.

Stories are vital to a society’s and an individual’s survival.

I’m an artist and researcher who folds lessons learned as a journalist into explorations of environmental issues by creating new narrative devices that rely heavily on manipulating the formal aspects of emerging technologies.

In the process, I am drawn to stories that involve humanity’s relationships to technology, whether it benefits from, is harmed by, competes with, or lives in harmony.

The work you see in front of you and hear around you is your story of discovery.

A process of making sense of media then surrendering to the interior landscape you create by ingesting and synthesizing representations of reality.

In this case, an autumnal view of the ocean from a glacial cliff on outer coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Based on my observations of the methodologies of a citizen scientist who counts and records wave patterns there, my attempts to replicate his activity, and then my reflection on the meaning of it, the editing moves you through the stages of recognizing patterns.


A 3D rendering of an installation featuring a three-channel video contained in a wooden rectangular structure. On an adjacent wall is printed documentation.


A wooden shed with a blue sign saying Cape Cod Wave Laboratory on a dirt cliff.


Wooden slats are shown close-up in a detail shot with weathered and rusty nails and fastners.


A clear representation of 3D printed waves rests on a black 3D printed mantle.


A spread of wave images


Waves with text in a split screen with a glacial cliff.


Montage of waves and words


Man sits with his wife and looks through binoculars at the sea.


Buoy Report from NOAA.

RISD Grad Show 2020