Over the course of four months, I corresponded with Spanish bio-artist Paz Tornero for a virtual residency organized by the SciArt Center in New York. Inspired by out shared interests in environmental activism and scientific approaches to art, we developed Water Under the Bridge: a website designed to engage readers with the subject of water.
The website is designed for a general audience and includes guides to municipal water treatment, common contaminants, and threats to water supplies. We began the project with an online survey to see what people knew about their water, and how people interacted with this essential resource on a day-to-day basis. The survey proved a hunch: that most people don’t know the details about where their water comes from, or what’s in it. For something so integral to life and science, the infrastructure and chemistry of water is relatively invisible, something that drew us to the subject as we imagined what an online resource might look like.
In addition to accessible information, the website include case studies on central Pennsylvania (where I researched the ongoing conflict of fracking) and Mar Menor (where Paz researched the pollution of a vital water supply).
As we listed DIY resources for readers, we also imagined speculative technology that might exist in the future. For example, the water profiler is an additive water filter designed to hack municipal water supplies for creative purposes. Using additions of salts and minerals, a user might reconstitute historical water profiles or adapt their water to geographic standards for cooking specific cuisines.
The project was chronicled in a weekly blog at SciArt’s website, where you can read more about our research and design process.