Bike Tour and Public Actions

The WATERWAYS bike tour along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, with stops for viewing actions along the greenway and culminating in a water tasting.

Sunday, October 4th, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm:  Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
Meeting point: 11:30 am at the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative´s booth at Atlantic Antic, Brooklyn

In association with the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative:

Bike tour and public actions, as described by Klara Elenius:

096 IMG_4203On Sunday, October 4th, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, we did a bike ride in Brooklyn with actions along the way.  We met at the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s booth at Atlantic Antic, the Brooklyn fall festival in Brooklyn Heights.  From there we biked north, through Dumbo, Williamsburg and Greenpoint, to our end stop at Newtown Creek – one of the most polluted waterways in NYC. 15 people showed up on this beautiful sunny Sunday and several more joined us spontaneously along the way. The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is designed as bike and walking paths separated from the traffic and will run as close to the water as possible.  The project is not completed yet in the part of Brooklyn where we biked, but it is taking shape and you can see the progression of bike paths along the way, moving from a painted line to independent bike lanes.  108 IMG_4217Surrounded by old industrial buildings and fences, there are still not a lot of possibilities to enjoy the actual waterfront in this area, but there are a few openings that permitted us to go all the way to the water, and with the Greenway Initiative’s admirable effort, these openings will expand in the near future.

118 IMG_4234We made three stops for public actions in parks situated along the East River. This journey was designed as a “best of” collection of our previous actions, showing small pieces from each brought together in a new frame.  At the first stop on the bike ride, you could experience dancers on the shore, set to music heard within headphones, and you could have a closer look at the park, the city and the dancers through binoculars.  At the second stop, we had a percussionist playing on dry ice with different metal objects.  These vibrating sounds enclosed the visual experience of the vapour of the dry ice and the melting of mini glaciers placed in the same area.  At our last stop at Newtown Creek, dancers guided the audience into the park through long concrete aisles, where live water music was performed. The pathway and bike tour culminated in a water tasting, where people could compare sips of tap water, spring water and salt water.

Thanks to the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative for all their help in organizing this bike ride!


2012: Art, The City, and The Environment – Oct 3

Paul D. Miller and Waterways collaborate as part of 2012:  Art, The City, and the Environment.

Human Glacier

Human Glacier begins at 7 pm and melts.  Sound by Paul D. Miller continues through the evening.
Saturday, Oct 3rd:  The Drop | Chelsea, W25th St at 10th & 11th Ave, NYC

069 DSC03110Human Glacier is a literal enactment of the melting of a glacier.  This collaboration with Paul D. Miller is an extension of Waterways, a project integrating architecture, ecology and dance, with the participation of Emma Nordanfors, Klara Elenius, and Karina Dichov-Lund of E.K.K.O, Lucy Hg of the League of Imaginary Scientists, Annie Kwon, David Garin and Matt McBane.  A partial list of dancers includes:  Frida Danell, Irene Hsi, Ea Verdoner Jaocbsen, Johanna Moritz, Kristina Skovby, Madeleine Söderberg, Carmela Torchia, and Marie Vestermark.  This performance is supported by iLAND, Inc, The Danish Arts Council, and the Danish Actors Association.

More information about the event is at Yoko Ono’ssite:

Paul D. Miller’s site:

085 DSC03266

Matt McBane on Human Glacier:

A part of the Waterways project, Human Glacier is a dance piece that I came on board for late in the process. For the preliminary steps in the creative process I will relay what was told to me by the other group members:


The idea for the piece came from work with dancers in the studio by Waterways collaborators Karina, Emma, Klara, Annie and Lucy. The Waterways project had been dealing with the melting of glaciers as one of many subjects throughout its residency, and out of this came the idea of creating a dance piece on this subject. What developed in the studio was a piece in which the dancers clumped together with arms raised to simulate an unmelted glacier and, simulating melting, very slowly collapsed to be completely limp on the floor.

After hearing the Waterways team using dry ice as a percussion instrument in a different event, Paul D. Miller/DJ Spooky expressed interest in collaborating with them in a performance piece at an art show he was participating in. His idea was to incorporate the piece into his installation relating to glaciers and to provide the sound including using dry ice. From there they set up the dress rehearsal at the art space.

This is the point of development at which I came on board in the project:

For the dress rehearsal we had a larger number of dancers (including Karina, Emma and Klara) than the choreographers had for the first rehearsals to create a larger and denser “glacier”. The dancers all wore loose-fitting, hooded, white Tyvex suits with grey booties that made the individual dancer more anonymous and the collected group look like a glacier. For this run-through, the dancers entered one-by-one and assumed their position in the glacier. Once everyone was in place, a timer started the count-down of 15 minutes over which the dancers very gradually collapsed to the ground. At the end of this process, they left one-by-one as they had come. The effect of this run-through was stark, minimalist and meditative.

Paul was unable to be at this dress rehearsal, but arrived in time to see video of it and share some of his sonic ideas and explain where his installation would be and work on how to incorporate the dance piece.

For the performance, there was a sense of improvisation and chance as the sounds and dance had been developed separately. The event (the opening for the art show) had more of a cacophonous party atmosphere than I expected and it completely changed the feel of the piece from meditation to spectacle. As MC of the piece, Paul was adept at harnessing the energy of the crowd and focusing it on the piece and making it an exciting event. His sound-design consisted of overtone-based-yet-slightly-clubby drones generated by an application on his iPhone along with chimes and dry ice played accoustically. The chimes were shaken in the air and dragged over the dry ice, which sent them vibrating creating pitched buzzing sounds. Overall, the piece made a very strong impression at the show although in the more party-like atmosphere lost some of the meditative qualities that I found appealing in rehearsal.


At DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival

HARBOR MOVEMENT with Waterways
/part of the D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival:

HARBOR MOVEMENT on board the water taxi in the East River
Fri–Sun, Sept. 25-27, 2009: 7-9 pm, free 1/2-hr tours from the dock at Fulton Ferry Landing


Harbor Movement, as described by Klara Elenius:

Harbor Movement was an event on the water, embarking from the Fulton Ferry Landing under the Brooklyn Bridge, Sept. 25-27, 2009.

Seven strange captains invited people at the pier to go onboard our boat and experience the East River in an unusual way.  They whistled, they pointed and directed tourists and visitors to the boat.

Harbor Movement was part of the D.U.M.B.O. Art Under The Bridge Festival, and our event took place on and around the water taxi.  A diverse audience of festival visitors, tourists, small children, young and old people joined us during our twelve different boat rides on the last weekend of September.

052 DSC03000 finaleWhile entering the boat, participants were handed binoculars to be used to get a closer look at the city and the landscape of light that surrounding it and the boat.  These cruises took place from sunset at 7 pm until the last ride that ended at 9 pm.  Complementary to this architectonic experience, the boat “danced” in a choreographed route, twirling and making unusual movements as a water soundtrack played in the boat’s speaker system.  Together, these simple components created an intense experience of being ON the water IN the city.  Finally, getting off the boat, out to the pier again – the captains applauded the journey and welcomed the audience back from their floating reality to a more grounded one.

046 DSC02945To be on East River at night, on a boat that pirouettes and weaves through the water, with Manhattan and Brooklyn and their connecting bridges as a spectacular backdrop, was a strong physical and visual experience.

I heard some people say, this wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was an amazing experience.  I like when people don’t get what they expect.

WATERWAYS at ConfluxCity

WATERWAYS ConfluxCity Performance at the Williamsburg Waterfront

NY waterways formed 11,000 years ago and have since changed shape and course in response to glacial movement and human development.
WATERWAYS presents a fluid timeline connecting past to present and nature to a city.


Sunday, Sept. 20th, from 1-3 pm, the Waterways group launched the second project action at the Williamsburg Waterfront in the East River State Park in Brooklyn in relation to Conflux city 2009.

The action
This event was formed around a series of site-specific water stories flowing from personal interactions, kinetic experiences, and possible past and future scenarios. A fluid timeline connecting past to present and nature to a city.

Incorporated in the park and city, different actions occurred at different scales:

  • dancers were performing at 3,000 feet, across the river, only to be to be viewed through on site binoculars.
  • at 300 feet, other dancers blended with people enjoying a sunny day by the park beach.
  • at 3 feet miniature glaciers, which could be held in the palm of the hand – was melting, reveling things from the past and the present that is and has been hiding in the water.
  • and yet another place dancers were “swimming” in what might be the future waterline in 50 years.
  • viewers had the possibility of listening to a pre-recorded water score as they were watching the different actions. Or they could choose to engage with the on-site percussionist performing with the sounds of dry ice. (Dry ice is uniquely resonant when the evaporating carbon dioxide interacts with metal).

Apart from the key Waterways group this event was joined and performed by the dancers Carmela Torchia, Irene Hsi and Kristina Skovby.

039 S5000458bReflections:
Sunday the 20th of September was a really sunny and nice day and the park was packed with people in a way that it hadn’t been in the prior weeks, when we had been there to rehearse and plan out this action. Most of the people were in the park just to hang out and not to experience or relate to an art action. And they would just coincidentally stumble upon a strange cardboard fish swimming above water or the sound of the dry ice because they happened to sit or walk close by.

042 CIMG1024They had a brief meeting with something they didn’t expect and then moved on. Some laughed. Some got annoyed that people would stop and face them or stare in there direction, because something was going on right behind were they were sitting. These small interactions were something we didn’t really count on but they turned out to be maybe the best part of the day.

044 IMG_3984Along with the different actions we planed out a structure for viewing them from a center station. But as it turned out the structure didn’t really function the way we thought it would. People viewing from there, were engaging in completely their own ways. Some would stay for a long time just watching the city across the river through the binoculars handed out to them. Others would stay and listen to the different water scores in the headphones. They searched for and found things that excited them. But many completely missed several of the actions we planed for them to experience as part of a whole. In that way the piece ended up being much more open than it was thought out to be from the beginning. And I guess in many ways that lines up with the whole idea of working site specific.

031 CIMG1023You get gifts you didn’t know was there – through the interactions with the given surroundings and you have to deal with surprises – in a more or less controlled way. You never know when a sleeping drunk is in the place where you are supposed to perform. Or a flock of birds have chosen to use the concrete platform you planned to draw on, as their personal bathroom, so you have to clean up bird shit before you can get to it. Basically you need to expect any thing – and I guess that is what is so fascinating about site-specific work. You have to go with the flow and just see where the experience takes you.

– thoughts from Karina


Composer Matt McBane logs action on the Waterpod


As the culmination of our week on the Waterpod, the Waterways team presented our work on Sunday, August 16, 2009. What we came up with for the Sunday event was a two part installation that used both the Waterpod’s display wall and large tented geodesic dome. After talking through many different possibilities for the event, we settled on a theme: the micro/macro relationship of the Waterpod’s and City’s water system. For each of the two parts of the installation we chose a different approach to this theme: for the wall, more scientific and experiential, and for the dome more artistic and abstract.

DSC02620The wall consisted of three main components: a map of New York, a diagram of water systems, and a water testing station. The map of New York was made of historical maps from throughout New York’s history layered upon one another to create a new map that visualized the layers of City’s history. On this map the public was given the opportunity to place color-coded pins marking the locations of various water resources and their interactions with them: a pool, a fire hydrant, where they last flushed, where they had a refreshing glass of water. By the end of the day, the result was a new whimsical mapping of the public’s water usage.

DSC02631The diagram of water systems was the most direct expression of the installation’s concept of relating the Waterpod to the City. On it the different stages of water usage on Waterpod and in the City were drawn parallel to one another illustrating the relationship of water collection, storage, purification, usage, sewage treatment, and grey water use. It was noted that while the two use parallel systems, the Waterpod is on a much more strictly rationed supply and makes much more efficient use of its grey water.

DSC02670The water testing station provided the public the opportunity to witness and participate in a variety of chemical tests on the water of the Waterpod and New York. These tests, including pH, oxgen content and others were done on water samples from the different stages of water usage on the barge and from different sites of interest in Brooklyn: Newtown Creek, the East River and tap water. David Garrin led these tests with participation from the public and provided scientific background information on water usage in the two environments.

IMG_3597The installation in the dome consisted of two components: hanging water bottles and a speaker installation. The hanging water bottles contained information about New York’s water usage written on pieces of wood floating in water samples from the different stages of water usage on the Waterpod. By placing the samples of the Waterpod’s water in identical hanging bottles, water that is often not seen in the water system of the barge was made visible to contemplate aesthetically. The information about the City’s water system floating in this water prompted the viewer to contemplate the relationship between the two water systems.

IMG_3615The sound installation in the consisted of 8 separate channels sent to eight separate speakers spaced symmetrically around the walls of the dome. The sound sources for the installation were recordings of the different water sounds of the Waterpod. These sounds ranged from the delicate rhythmic dripping of the hydroponic irrigation system to the intense downpour of rain on the dome’s vinyl siding. The sounds were arranged throughout the space and over the course 20 minutes to create a variety of effects: from the disorienting effect of the recorded sound of the movement of the barge in the water clashing with the barge’s actual movements, to the animal-like disembodied sounds of the foot water pump, to the realistic sounds of rain. The overall effect was to draw the public’s attention to the particular acoustics of the geodesic dome, and to draw their attention to the sounds of the barge’s water system making them more aware of the Waterpod’s water sytem.


Chemist David Garin logs process on the Waterpod


Policy Deliberations- Process   Aug 9-17, 2009

Five of us (in Waterways or WW) are in town and we meet on the Waterpod. After touring the vessel, we decide to meet there all week. Our two actions this week will be with children on Friday afternoon and with visitors (mainly adults) all day the following Sunday, determined mainly by the Waterpod group schedule and agreed to by all of us.

waterpod2In order to better understand how each of us in WW views the project and our interests, methods, etc. we will pair off for discussions on a rotation on Monday and Tuesday for 1.5 hr each pair followed by a group 0.5 hr summary of our discussions with follow-up questions.

On Monday, there are six of us and we each list a word or phrase that can be used as a focal point and then choose one at random. For example, this author chose “current” which, he pointed out, has  two definitions, both of them useful for our deliberations. The one on one discussions covered personal as well as professional information but focused on water as the prime subject. Questions arose such as “What do we want to come away with and what do we want the public to come away with?”, the dilemna of designing demonstrations and emphasizing the principles behind them. In our group meeting, we summarized our one on one conversations which led to further questions and a widening array of possibilities for the actions.

We also covered many facts regarding water usage in NYC, and problems involving potable water in the world and how we might deal with such information. A few possible actions evolved the first day but we felt the process was more important than rushing to a product. Should we include the political and economic aspects of water policy or discuss the privatization of water? Would that take us too far away from our initial purpose. Where is the role of sound?

IMG_3509On Tuesday, we decided to reduce the one on one time since we had become more familiar with one another on Monday. After only 45 minutes we would meet as a group. That worked well and allowed us to finish the pairings. Discussions included how to motivate the audience, the need to be interactive, follow-up, mapping, multicultural approaches since there are an amazingly large number of ethnic groups in Brooklyn which gives it an international aura. We generate a TO DO list. One of us will do a posting on the blog regarding the process we used this week. Another member will do a posting for the event(s).

By the end of the day we have focused on several activities for the Waterpod. There will be a sound activity, a water tasting with the focus on what is in water, a demonstration on obtaining fresh water from salt water, an interactive map, and interviewing the students to respond to “Water is …”. We have ordered some materials for chemical tests and will probably incorporate them on Sunday.

We also discuss an event planned for September 26, during the DUMBO festival. We will have an action on the Water Taxi but defer discussions until the Waterpod actions are complete.

S5000270On Wednesday, we carefully plan the Friday actions including locations, time schedules, and who will do what. We need to generate sounds and to have appropriate speakers. We design our physical needs and decide who will bring what. For each activity or station, we have one LEAD person, one assisting person and perhaps a third. The locations on the Waterpod are decided.

We also discuss the Sunday plan.

On Thursday, some experiments are tested and written informational material to display on the Waterpod is printed. We produce synthetic seawater and redesign some experiments to enhance their artistic components. The discussion includes how to integrate all parts, the science, artistic, and movement. One action is questionable since we need Dry Ice and cannot locate a source so we discuss how it can be oriented if the material is not present. (We do get the Dry Ice on Friday.)

CIMG0690On Friday, we decide to meet with all the students for a brief introduction, then to divide the students into four groups, that each station will work with the students for 6-8 minutes and then the students will rotate so we always know where the students will be.

At the conclusion of the action, we decide to meet to review and to plan for Sunday. We will set up the speakers, we will use several chemical tests. We agree upon the activities but question the amount of interaction and interfacing. We will focus on how the Waterpod relates to Brooklyn (NYC) residents. We will have different activities starting on the hour so that a particular activity might occur for a half hour repeatedly starting at 1 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm, for example.

We are focusing on the conceptual aspect. Assignments are set, each activity will have two people responsible for organizing and performing.

Throughout, the work has been shared and the possible activities have been discussed fully with everyone participating. It is a long process but everyone has had input.

Saturday is used to create and/or accumulate our materials and for other final preparations including hanging the speakers.

IMG_3581On Sunday, we meet on the Waterpod and arrange locations for our activities. The interactive map is hung and will remain on the Waterpod. It is a full day with lots of interaction with Waterpod people and audience. We agree to summarize on Monday afternoon before our final(?) meeting with the Waterpod group in the evening.

Ice benches on Union Square

The other day there was an installation at Union Square commenting on the human impact on the climate changes…