Composer Matt McBane logs action on the Waterpod

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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.

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