The Wet Index

Kedron Parker & Bruce McNaught

THE WET INDEX invites people to see city water in a whole new way. Water collected from a variety of sources in Wellington – storm-water, grey-water, streams, and water tanks – will be on display as its own work of art, in a floor to ceiling ever-flowing waterfall curtain. The water curtain is not only beautiful to watch and to hear – it is a natural projection surface.

Two projectors will superimpose images onto the water in a constantly moving and interactive collage:
a) a live video feed of participants, taken from a camera mounted on the water curtain
b) an “index” of occasional and intermittent water-related images, video, and audio

As the participants enter the space, they will hear a gentle natural soundscape, and will see a back-lit full length silhouette of themselves walking forward. Approaching the water, they will be increasingly lit from the curtain area and the their faces and bodies will begin to become more recognisable, revealing their image in the water itself in an ethereal and ever-changing way. As participants are experiencing their own reflection, an “index” of occasional, intermittent images, video elements and sound will collage randomly with their image. Some images will be beautiful, some historical, some informational, and some provocative.

The Wet Index is place-telling in liquid form. It reminds us how different aspects of urban water have shaped the development of our city. It reminds us how we built over our streams, estuary, and foreshore, to make more land for roads and buildings. It reminds us about the the unseen and extensive networks of underground pipes we depend on every day, which we never think about.

It’s time, however, to start thinking, as our old ways of managing our city’s infrastructure won’t work for us in an age where fresh water has become a precious commodity.

But the real reason for the Wet Index is this:  we think water is beautiful.

A stack of jars.As city folk, we know that water in any form – be it the harbour, the Bucket Fountain, or an urban stream – provides a moment of relief from city concrete and provides a moment to connect us with the natural world. It’s a brief visual and sonic detox that reawakens our senses and helps us feel human again.

 Entering the Wet Index, near the installation signage, participants will see a display of jars containing samples of city water, labeled with the site of collection. Set in a darkened room with an audio soundscape of an outdoor stream, viewers approach the water curtain and begin to notice subtle, projected images.
A curtain made of various materials.The Wet Index is a large, flowing curtain made of a variety of urban fresh water sources such as storm-water, streams, and water collection tanks. In the curtain itself is a camera that captures the viewer. This image is projected into the water so that the viewer sees his or her own image inside the water itself.

Other images and video representing water in our city will be added intermittently to the projection, forming an etherial and ever-changing collage, taking place within the beauty that is flowing water.

The realised work is discussed and documented here thanks to Urban Dream Brokerage

Kedron presented a work in progress at last year’s ADA symposium in Dunedin which developed into the beautiful work Kumutoto Stream.


Opening pictures from Denise