Department of Water and Power
Marissa Lee Benedict, David Rueter
Installed at the ︎︎︎Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).
Vertical blinds, metal salts for vapor extraction), fiberglass, acetate sheet, linear actuators, steel, antislip pads, thermoplastics, brass pipe fittings, irrigation tubing, chromed steel, custom electronics, machine vision prototyping board, LEDs, battery, power cables, condensate evaporator, thermal sticker printer, sticker media, shelf edge LCD display, tripod, wireless weather station, weatherproof enclosure, LCD display, singleboard computer, custom software, live data feed to Owens Lake environmental monitoring cameras.
Department of Water and Power is a site-adapted installation: a network of water (liquid and vapor) collected and spewed in relation to data and images. The work peripherally inhabited the three floors along the stairwell of the public atrium of the Bauhaus-styled Jan van Eyck Academie during Open Studios (2019), occupying an expansive yet almost invisible footprint in the building.
Extracting water from the air and processing those drops into images (liquid gold), the work negotiated subjects of privatized water management and fifinancial speculation, encapsulating a future of scarcity as it takes shape.
The installation consisted of: three windows clad with custom 6-meter vertical blinds; metals salt discs, sewn into the blinds, that drew minuscule amounts of moisture from the air; moisture that ran down the blinds at night accumulating in thermoplastic basins on the sill; basins that drained into the academy basement, where the collected water leaked drop-by-drop through a Bauhausesque “sconce camera” before hitting an evaporator and becoming steam (to be re-absorbed by visitors mouths and the blinds); images from this "camera" transmitted wirelessly up to a narrow display screen on the third flfloor; as each image appeared on a self display screen, a sticker spit out of a machine; the sticker accumulated in driftfts at the top of the stairwell for visitors to take, and slid offff the lip of the stairwell, flfluttering down to the basement; outside, a weather station streamed images from dust cameras in Owens Valley (CA, US) to the Netherlands.