Coverage. Download. Breaking. These are ordinary words that you will find all over the news. But when they are individually and massively spelled out in water, each getting a few seconds to captivate the audience before they vanish as a waterfall and are then replaced by another word, they are something else entirely: art. “Surface Tension: The Future of Water,” a thought-provoking art exhibit at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in Chelsea, ties together visual art and technology while educating people on worldly matters related to water. Unfortunately, Eyebeam is no longer housing this exhibition (which originally came from the Science Gallery in Dublin), but you can check online to see where it is traveling to next.
Upon walking into Eyebeam, the aforementioned Bit.Fall (see photo above) was the first thing to catch my eye. The words appearing in the waterfall were the most searched words on the New York Times website at the moment. The way the words could be streamed and then created almost instantaneously was similar to the technology of an inkjet printer. Since it was constantly changing, I could stare at it for minutes at a time and still be fascinated. Another piece that impressed me was the “Archive of Vatnajokull.” This showed viewers how an artist had the idea to install an underwater phone in the Jokulsarlon Lagoon in Iceland. If you call the cell phone’s number, you will be able to listen to the noises of the lagoon. This idea is so simple, yet it is completely out of the ordinary.
A small poster of information on the wall left a large impact on my way of thinking:
In many third-world countries, water comes from wells, and hand pumps are used to receive this water. To make obtaining water easier, the PlayPump was invented. The PlayPump is a merry-go-round-like piece of playground equipment that pumps water when children play on it. On the PlayPumps themselves, there are advertisements of those who sponsor them. At first, this seemed like a great idea: to me, to everyone I explained it to, to hundreds of sponsors, and even to then-current First Lady Laura Bush. But, in reality, kids would need to play on them for more hours than there are in a day, more pumping had to be done with PlayPumps than hand pumps to produce the same amount of water, & two hand pumps could be installed in the space where one PlayPump would be.
This made me realize how we should not be solving the world’s problems without consulting the people we are helping first. Many things that seem like good ideas just aren’t practical. These are the things we should be learning about in Global History so that we can be informed leaders.
This exhibit really showed me various interpretations of what should be considered art. When technology meets science to create something jaw-dropping, something that makes you think, that is art. It made me think about water in ways I had never even considered. Water is such a complex subject and it is amazing what you can do when you combine it with technology. I would definitely recommend this exhibit to anyone, even if you have no interest in science or art. If more people are educated on this subject, we can truly make a difference in the world.