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Underwater Art Exhibit Debuts On Land In Key West

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Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke, left, show his digitally composited work to Elena Devers, right, during the public opening of "The Sinking World" Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at The Studios of Key West in Key West, Fla. (Source: Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke, left, show his digitally composited work to Elena Devers, right, during the public opening of “The Sinking World” Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at The Studios of Key West in Key West, Fla. (Source: Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

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KEY WEST (CBSMiami) — An Austrian art photographer’s exhibit, once displayed 95 feet deep on a sunken ship in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, has premiered onshore in Key West.

Andreas Franke’s “The Sinking World” exhibit opened Thursday at The Studios of Key West and continues there through Feb. 15.

The exhibit features digitally composited images of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a former Air Force missile tracking ship scuttled in May 2009 to become an artificial reef off Key West. It is the second largest ship in the world ever to be purposely sunk to become a marine habitat, artificial reef experts said.

Franke photographed the wreck and digitally added elements, creating haunting images such as a young girl wielding a butterfly net to capture fish and a workman perched on a crossbeam to eat his lunch.

The 4- by 5-foot photographs then were sandwiched in plexiglass and displayed on the Vandenberg’s Weather Deck beneath the ocean’s surface for almost five months.

Barnacles, algae and other marine organisms grew on them and slight water leaks altered the images to create the work being exhibited on land.

“My art looks quite similar above the water as well as underwater, but over time when the sea life starts growing, it changed dramatically,” Franke said. “It gave it a third dimension to the surface.”

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