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Waterpod™ Project

December 21, 2009

New York–based photographer and sculptor Mary Mattingly has designed The Waterpod, a floating eco-habitat that recalls the work of Buckminster Fuller, Andrea Zittel, and Constant Nieuwenhuis and was launched this May in the East River. Here is the evolution of the project.

While living on and navigating an inland deck barge surmounted by futuristic architectural structures in the resurgent waters of NYC, 5 International artists will live, work, and hold events in order to further the public-centered artistic, ecological, scientific, and cultural richness of New York’s 5 boroughs and the surrounding waterways. Water, and how we manage our water resources, is going to define this Century. The Waterpod demonstrates future pathways for nomadic, mobile shelters and water-based communities, docked and roaming. It embodies self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, learning and curiosity, human expression and creative exploration. It intends to prepare, inform, and provide an alternative to current and future living spaces.

In preparation for our coming world with an increase in population, a decrease in usable land, and a greater flux in environmental conditions, people will need to rely closely on immediate communities and look for alternative living models; the Waterpod is about cooperation, collaboration, augmentation, and metamorphosis.

At the structure description, we can read: “Waterpod™ is currently being built of repurposed wood, metal, plastic, fabric, and other materials on top of and adjacent to an industrial barge. Waterpod™ is structured as a double-domed island. Construction materials will include salvaged pieces of sunken vessels raised from the rivers bottom in the Rockaway and other areas. The main space is an amorphous shape dedicated to community and artistic activity including fine arts, performing arts, lectures, and workshops. Passengers will engage in navigation, mapping, recording, performing, art making, researching, and learning. The second spherical space includes space for hydroponic and vertical agriculture, greywater recycling, and alternative power sources. The third area includes a kitchen and shower room, and the fourth contains four separate bedrooms including a guest bedroom. The composting toilet will be in a dedicated free standing building. Waterpod™ will rely solely on it’s own power sources including a vertical wind turbine, solar PV panels, bicycle power, and a picohydro system.”

Waterpod™ has been imagined as a realistic alternative to traditional living spaces. They have a Manifesto based on a text from James Joyce’s Ulysses:

What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator’s projection: its umplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8,000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: Its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including billions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents: gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs, and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe) numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

– James Joyce, Ulysses.

Without any doubts, the project reminds us the Study for Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan by Robert Smithson, Floating Island is the most provocative work of Smithson:

Above: Study for Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan by Robert Smithson

Waterpod™ is an internationally curated public work of art in itself, visible from the skyscrapers of New York to the Brooklyn Promenade. Aside from being an experimental autonomous living space for the residents onboard, Waterpod™ showcases artworks, performances, tutorials, discussions, and other creative projects. Open to the public, Waterpod™’s course is being logged, blogged, charted, and reported online. Through its dilatory watery peregrinations, Waterpod™ intends to prepare, inform, inspire, provoke, and fortify humanity for tomorrow’s exterior explorations.

If you want to know more, the complete PDF here ant the Waterpod™ wbsite, here.

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