Water Is…

Observations About Water From Wave Participants at The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

The primary goals of The Wave as a traveling, interactive, public art project are to call attention to the critical importance of water in all of our lives and to foster a sense of common connections through our shared responsibility to protect this vital resource. As they cut a piece of recyclable, polycarbonate film into a wave-like shape of their own interpretation and ‘connect’ it to a cord flowing through the installation site, participants are contributing to an ever-growing, dynamic wave in brilliant colors, emphasizing the beauty, power and essential nature of water.

 Wave Participants at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014. Photo Courtesy of Diana Guay Photography.


Wave Participants at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014. Photo Courtesy of Diana Guay Photography.

On July 12, 2014, The Wave was installed at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT as part of the Education Department’s monthly Second Saturdays for Families program. (See July 15 blog post for a description and images of the installation) In order to encourage personal connections to water and The Wave installation, the education staff of the Wadsworth invited Wave participants of all ages to respond in writing to four prompts about water: (1) I like water because…(3) My best water memory is…(3) Water is… and (4) Water feels…

The answers to the prompts emphasize how water evokes vivid memories of special people and places and appeals to all of the senses: sound, touch, taste, hearing and sight. Here are some samples provided by adults and children of all ages:

I like water because…

It is delicious!

It’s fun.

I can play with it.

It helps us survive.

It makes loud waves.

 The Sound and Touch of The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014


The Sound and Touch of The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014

My best water memory is…

The beach near my grandmother’s house in Bandra, Bombay, India. We used to play on the beach and rocks as kids and sadly, there is no more beach left.

My dad teaching me to swim in the Pacific Ocean: lesson #1 – just plunge in; lesson #2 – keep your mouth closed.  Thank you Daddy!

When I went to White Waters Over Georgia and I was in the wave pool in 8 feet. It was so cool!

Fish jumping in the water.

 Wave Participant, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014


Wave Participant, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014

Water is and feels…

Terrific!

Cold

Squishy

Send us your responses to these prompts and we’ll add them to our growing collection!

 Response by Wave Participant, Wadsworth Atheneum, July 12, 2014


Response by Wave Participant, Wadsworth Atheneum, July 12, 2014

 

The Wave at the
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

“Flash” Wave

On July 12, 2014, Elena and I installed The Wave in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT for a period of three hours as part of the Education Department’s monthly Second Saturdays for Families program. (Founded in 1842, The Wadsworth is the oldest public art museum in the United States.)  During that short window of time and with the participation of several hundred enthusiastic museum visitors, we created a three-story, cascading waterfall that spilled into an undulating river flowing throughout the museum’s storied Avery Court. Then, in the same way that ‘Flash Mobs’ come and go quickly to effect an intensity of artistic expression, we removed all evidence that it had ever been there.

Alltogether, it was an amazing experience to watch children and adults touching and shaking the installation to hear it roar like a waterfall, looking up and around the space with a new understanding of its majestic design and taking pride in participating in an interactive, national art project. The installation was funded, in part, by a micro grant from The Awesome Foundation CT.

 Avery Court, Wadsworth Atheneum


Before: Avery Court, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

 The Wave installed in the Avery Court of the Wadsworth Museum of Art, July, 2014


After: The Wave installed in Avery Court, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014

 Participants Gazing at The Wave in Avery Court, Wadsworth Museum of Art, July 12, 2014. Photograph Courtesy of Diana Guay Photography.


Participants Gazing at The Wave in Avery Court, Wadsworth Museum of Art, July 12, 2014. Photograph Courtesy of Diana Guay Photography.

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The Wave in Avery Court, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014

 The  Wave 'Waterfall" at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 2014


The Wave ‘Waterfall” at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 2014

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The Wave ‘Relating’ to a Jean Arp Painting on the Walls of the Wadsworth Atheneum, July 12, 2014

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The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, July 12, 2014

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Participants, The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, July 12, 2014

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Participants, The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, July 12, 2014

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Faces of The Wave, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, July 12, 2014

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Participants, The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, July 12, 2014

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Participants, The Wave at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, July 12, 2014

Science Fiction and Water

Science Fiction as a Speculative Genre

As a visual artist, I’ve always loved science fiction. I am drawn (pun intended) to the highly imaginative worlds that science fiction authors create. By definition, science fiction contains inventive settings and other-wordly technology that take place in the future, including alternate universes, time travel and extraterrestrial life. American, Robert Heinlein, (1907 – 1988), often considered the ‘dean of science fiction writers’ and author of such classics as Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers, defined the genre as “realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.” Good science fiction challenges us to consider the physical, moral and political consequences of scientific and technological inventions, social structures and human behavior.

 Cover Image of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein


Cover Image of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Science Fiction Writers = Prophets of the Future.

As speculators about the future, science fiction writers have often predicted and influenced real-world technological inventions. In 1950, in his I, Robot short stories, Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) described a new world in which man-made machines called robots carried out routine, human tasks. In so doing, he foresaw the development of what became an entire scientific field of study called robotics and inspired generations of readers to embrace his vision.  Similarly science fiction writer, Jules Verne, (1828 – 1905) realized the potential for the components of water (hydrogen and oxygen) to be used as fuel and predicted the technology of fuel cells that are currently being used to power clean energy, hybrid automobiles. The Science Channel has created a fascinating series entitled, Prophets of Science Fiction, that features 10 science fiction writers, including Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov, who imagined future scientific ideas that have become reality.

 Cover of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov


Cover of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Why Bring Up Science Fiction in a Blog About The Wave, Water and Public Art?

Right now I am re-reading the epic classic, Dune, by Frank Herbert (1965), considered to be one of the best science fiction novels of all time. Dune is set on a hostile desert planet called Arrakis that is populated by the Fremen, a native, human population. The Fremen have complex rituals and systems that revolve around the value and conservation of water. The preciousness of water to them is so critical to their consciousness and their very existence that they consider the acts of spitting and shedding tears as signs of reverence to the receiver because those who respond in this way are willingly releasing what is desperately needed to live. The Fremen even make what we would consider to be harsh life and death choices based on how they see the survival needs of their whole community: they do not waste water on the wounded or fatally ill.

Reading Dune this summer, while severe drought conditions in the American west are reported daily on the news, has made me wonder whether or not Frank Herbert created such an extreme scenario about an almost waterless society in order to force our attention on the very real threats that exist should we not: conserve the dwindling water resources we have on Earth right now; eradicate the pollution that poisons our oceans, lakes and rivers and provide potable water more effectively to water-scarce areas of the world in order to prevent future wars over water. To me, the novel is another powerful example of how art can bombard our senses and focus our attention as a society on addressing critical challenges with clarity and resolve.

 2014 Drought in American West


2014 Drought in California