The Water Underground Surfaces!

2011 dirtstar residency at

Tenderloin National Forest /

the luggage store

This spring the Water Underground sloshed back and forth across the San Francisco watershed–seeping, spying, gathering driftwood, conspiring, floating ideas, seducing new swimmers. . . . We washed up at the Tenderloin National Forest with a highly performative science fair installation we call Hydro-Laboratory!

Hydro-Lab made a great splash for visitors of all ages!

dirtstar honored us with inclusion in its six-week TNF residency. Water Underground agents turned out in weather-element costume to install apparatus and atmosphere. Visitors toured water stations to immerse themselves in the science, technology, politics, and art of water . . . after being sworn in:

Agent Lightning

Agent Lightning administers the Water Oath at TNF entrance

I solemnly swear
On this [look up and check the sky, then name it: cloudy, sunny, etc.] day in San Francisco
And from this day forward
To fight for the sake of water on our mother Earth.

I understand that water is in danger
So I will put myself in danger for water.

I understand that water is smarter than us
That it teaches us
And that it is us
So I will strive to learn from water.

Like water, I will rise!
Which is to say at will
And over any obstacle.

Like water, my flow may be diverted.
But the diversion of water is only ever temporary.

I commit myself to water.
So help me Gosh.

Agent Haze with SF city watershed samples

Agent Thunderstorm bespeaks a young cloud enthusiast at the TNF gala opening. Wave sculpture in background by ____________.

Slow sand filters kept visitors hauling buckets

An evaporation tank evoked both the Bay and California's reservoirs

Bike pump + fish bowl + water = cloud chamber

We must not forget the sewer

Hydro-Laboratory is NOT a spectator affair! You carry water, filter and taste-test water, make your own clouds, and get your hands dirty in order to wash at the rainwater sink. You don’t even really leave when it’s over. . . . After participating in the whole round of stations, visitors had the option of becoming full agents of the Water Underground–

First, finding out their own weather elements and receiving badges with those symbols:

Symbols were button-pressed into 1" circular pin badges

Then, accepting assignments:

Assignments are tailored to fit element characteristics

New agents  inscribed, onto driftwood, fragments of an ever-shifting AquaFesto.

The Floating AquaFesto is never finished

Agent Smoke solicited new agents' contributions to the Aqufesto

Check out our mad-libs style Water Underground Communiques. Fill in the blanks with watery words and find out what’s going on below the surface.

Fuller documentation soon at Water, CA! (If you don’t know this site, please explore it–a fascinating, beautifully designed, multi-media scatter graph of, yeah, water in California.)


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