Drinking Water Tryptic Collage – Sustainable Systems

Drinking Water – Collage Tryptic Project

The goal of this project is to represent through collage the cyborg infrastructure that regulates drinking water in New York City in relation to Mitchell’s typology of boundaries and flows. Implementing a tryptic format to visually communicate how water enters, circulates and exits the system. This series represents; boundaries, connections, networks, discontinuities, habitats and communities that relate to the transportation and use of water.

Entrance

Entrance

Starting with the first panel depicting the point of entry. The use of bright water and waterfall images represent the Delaware, Catskill and Croton Systems that New York relies on for this resource. The majority of the water imagery is in the background to represent the sheer volume of the reservoirs in terms of boundary. “Together the systems have a total storage capacity of 580 billion gallons and cover about 2,000 square miles – roughly the size of the state of Delaware.” (Ascher 154). Next, the motor and strips of water that overlap the man’s body were added to represent the aqueducts, as connectors, used to move the water from the reservoirs to New York City. The motor is also a metaphor for the man-made interference this system requires. Moreover, the blurred image of a man in movement is used to represent the impact the creation of these systems had on the habitats and communities around them. “The creation of these reservoirs…involved the partial flooding of some 30 separate communities in Sullivan, Delaware, Ulster, and Putnam Counties. Over 9,000 people were displaced in the process and an estimated 11,500 graves dug up and reinterred.” (Ascher 155).

Circulation

Circulation

Indeed, New Yorkers are greatly linked to these communities and altered habitats despite the discontinuity in the majority of the public’s perception on where their water comes from. This segues perfectly into the second panel depicting the circulation of water within the City. Here the primarily neutral imagery and the figure kneeling to towards the water underline the discontinuity mentioned above. The horizon of the collage, an image of a subway tunnel, and the circular frame represent the network of underground tunnels, pipes, submains, service lines, and combined sewer system that circulate the water to and from the public. Finally, the blue dot with ripples around it, the additional blue in the water and bright coloured bands depict the value of water and the ways that it is consumed before it becomes waste.

Exit

Exit

The last panel represents the exit of the water from the City. Here the black space as well as the murky and grey waters repent the long history of pollution in the Hudson River related to human waste. Before this was a result of the lack of sewage treatment plants. Now, however, it is caused by the overflow of sewage mixed with rain water, resulting from how the combined sewer system functions when the plants are at full capacity. The fish head inside of a button up shirt represents the impact humans have on the Hudson River’s habitat and how the wild life is also an integral part of New York City’s larger community. The strip of light water, the blue fish tail and the trees depict the efforts to treat and clean water with dewatering treatment plants as well as the beneficially repurposing of the remaining bio-solids as fertilizer.

All in all, New York’s water infrastructure is quite remarkable. However, in regards to Mitchell’s typology of boundaries and flows, there were no representations of time or process because there is not quite any regulation on where and when the water flows. When a tap is opened water is distributed as long and there’s no drought. As a result of the absences of the synchronization of water distribution with the use of time, the process already blurs the concepts of simultaneity and sequence.

 

Ascher, Kate. The Works: Anatomy of a City. New York: Penguin, 2005, Print.

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