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…



Niagara Falls

From Klara and Karina

Nigara Falls…… Nature is amazing and on the move.

Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly-formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment  en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m³) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m³) on average. It is the most powerful waterfall in North America.

The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Managing the balance between recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 1800s.

Today the falls has moved more than seven miles upstream due to erosion. Erosion continues today, but the rate has been slowed by the diversion of water upstream for the generation of electricity. We can temporarily maintainthe shape of the falls by slowing erosion, but even modern technology can’t stop geological activity. Niagara Falls is a living, constantly evolving example of the processes that formed it.





Niagara Power Project

From Klara and Karina:

As some of you know we started our visit here in the States by going on a Road Trip to Niagara Falls. And when there we also visited the Niagara Falls Power Plant. It was a very interesting visit in relation to Waterways.

From the Niagara Falls Power Plant website:

You know it as one of the great natural wonders of the world. But did you know that the power behind Niagara Falls also helps generate some of the least expensive electricity anywhere?

The United States and Canada have shared the Niagara River’s water power—along with a commitment to preserve the beauty of the Falls—for nearly half a century.  And our Niagara Power Project will continue to produce steady supplies of clean, carbon-free hydroelectricity for another 50 years with a new federal license which took effect September 1, 2007.

Check out the link below for more information about the plant and the whole power projekt:

NYPA Facilities:  Niagara Power Project





Waterways first action


Sunday, August16th, 11 AM to 7 PM

On the Waterpod in the Brooklyn Bridge Park