Best of 2009: Clean Renewable Rubber Ducky Power

We’re taking it easy the last week of 2009 with reposts of some of our 2009 faves! In case you missed it: Our April 2009 post, Clean Renewable Rubber Ducky Power, in which an unusual public art installation inspires our visualization of a “million dollar idea” for tidal power generation!

—REPOSTED, Original Link Here

Some outside-the-tub thinking: I found this HUGE fella who’s cute, yellow, and chubby! The artist Florentijn Hofman, well known in his native Holland and throughout Europe, created an actual 100-foot long rubber ducky for ‘Loire Estuary 2007,’ an outdoor contemporary art exhibition in France.

OK, so here’s my million-dollar idea©: WHY can’t we put this guy in touch with a group working on tidal energy generation? How cool would it be to have have hundreds of these bobbing in the sea, generating clean renewable power while delighting the populace? How ’bout that, Earth Day celebrants?

Sustainable awesomeness. Just another reason why science and art should knock heads now and then!

But I digress. Here’s a charming description of the work from the artist’s website

A yellow spot on the horizon slowly approaches the coast. People have gatherd and watch in amazement as a giant yellow Rubber Duck approaches. The spectators are greeted by the duck, which slowly nods its head. The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn’t discriminate people and doesn’t have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Questions

Via Elton J. Mello (@medindoagua on Twitter) we were directed to the incredible Flickr pool “Water…Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, Creeks” with 26,249 members and a visual feast of 360,000+ photos.

Including this mesmerizing shot by Gilderic, The Mystery City… a very different and more spiritual perspective on urban water and its place in a city’s “soul.” What lies beneath the surface is more elusive and mysterious than a mass of molecules, don’t you think? Just as we might strain to see into the building’s windows, we also keep trying to see below that shining, reflected surface.

The mysteries of the city are hidden.

Deep into its houses and buildings.

Deep into the reflections on the waters of the river.

Deep into the soul of its people.

Les mystères de la ville se dérobent.

A l’abri dans les maisons et des bâtiments.

Dans les reflets flottant à la surface du fleuve.

Dans le coeur et l’âme des ses habitants.

La Meuse, à Liège (the river Meuse, Liege)

I’m Holding My Breath for this New Museum

Jason deCaires Taylor (via

Jason deCaires Taylor (via

Soon, Cancun may be noted for something more than Spring break underage drinkers. A national park in Cancun will soon feature sculptures of human figures situated in the seabed, with the first four “going down” this month. These are the beginning of what will eventually be hundreds of figures in “the worlds largest underwater museum.” From BBC News on November 19th,

According to the park’s director Jaime Gonzalez, one of the aims is to reduce the pressure on the natural habitat in other areas of the park by luring tourists away from existing coral reef, which has suffered damage from hurricanes and human activity.

One of the sculptures is La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope). It features a young girl lying on a garden patio, surrounded by potted plants. When it is installed four meters below the surface, the work will include propagated coral in the empty pots. This well-established reef conservation technique will rescue damaged coral fragments by providing a suitable new substrate. The base incorporates habitat spaces for other marine creatures such as moray eels, small fish and lobsters.

“It all happens rather quickly – within two weeks, we will see green algae,” says artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who is in charge of the project. “Then within a few months, juvenile algae will appear and the project will progress from there.”

La Jardinera (photo: Dr. Jessie Voights,

La Jardinera de la Esperanza (photo: Dr. Jessie Voights,

The BBC article also included this observation from Dr. Paul Jepson, a lecturer in conservation at the UK’s University of Oxford, who applauded the idea of the museum.

“Conservationists need to find different ways of engaging with the world. Artists should get involved in environmental matters so it is not just scientists trying to get the message out there,” he said.

And I wholeheartedly applaud that. In fact, that why I write about “Water and Art” and exactly why it matters.

Vicissitudes by Jason deCaires Taylor, Grenada, West Indies

Vicissitudes by Jason deCaires Taylor, Grenada, West Indies

Detail, Vicissitudes by Jason deCaires Taylor, Grenada, West Indies

Detail, Vicissitudes by Jason deCaires Taylor, Grenada, West Indies (via

Nemo, txt u l8r

What if you could send a text message to the fishes and find out first-hand how they’re doing? U R SO FINNY, LOL! Sound crazy? Of course, this is just crazy enough to be true.

The Amphibious Architecture project aims to remind us that the water is more than just a pretty reflective surface, it is a habitat that is a “teeming body that’s alive with organisms whose health affects our health while our activities affect their health.

From September 17 through November 7th, two sites along the East and the Bronx Rivers in New York will be installed with a network of floating interactive buoys with sensors below water and light emitting diodes (LEDs) above the water. The sensors monitor water quality and the presence of aquatic life. THe LEDs repond to the sensors, giving above-surface humans a visual cue as to what’s going on below.

Now, the texting part: an SMS interface allows “homo-citizens” to text-message the fish and receive real-time information about the river, and hopefully, spark a larger public interest and dialogue about local waterways. (You’ll get a message back that looks something like, Underwater it is now quiet. The last fish swam by 17 minutes ago. D O level is 7.6 mg/L which is mg/L average.

The project was commissioned for the Architectural League of New York’s exhibition Toward the Sentient City and was developed by xClinic Environmental Health Clinic at New York University and the Living Architecture Lab at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Word Up: The Photography of Shinichi Maruyama

Born in Japan and now working in New York, artist and photographer Shinichi Maruyama engineers the collision of water and black India ink and captures the moment that the two meet at 7,500th of a second. Recent advancements in strobe light technology enable these stunning abstract images, where the camera can record the extraordinary detail of physical events that occur faster than our eyes can perceive them.

The series Kusho, which means “writing in the sky,” is reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy but executed in the air rather than on the flat surface of paper, using a variety of techniques to achieve a range of effects. Maruyama observes, “Not knowing what you are going to get impresses me strongly. We do now know what we have until we look at the actual photography.”

View the gallery of Kusho images at Shinichi Maruyama’s website

Information on Shinichi Maruyama via Bruce Silverstein Gallery

Kusho Installation View, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY

Kusho Installation View, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY

Kusho Installation View, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York

Kusho Installation View, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York

All the Hip Toilets are Wearing These

If you think there’s not much you can do with the bland look of white porcelain, the cooler-than-us people at Hu2 Design have come up with something affordable, impermanent and way, way out there. Their “Smart Vinyl Laboratory” features vinyl stickers can be applied to any smooth surface…like this one! And renters, note, they are completely removable.

A bargain at £20, given the huge amount of attention you can expect to get from any guests who may use your facilities!

Surveying our Vast Plastic Landscape

Is today’s tidal wave of plastics rooted in the actions of centuries past? Ellen Driscoll’s installation FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 (at Brooklyn, NY Smack Mellon/Dumbo Arts Center) is composed of 2600 discarded #2 plastic bottles she has painstakingly cut up and reformed as a ghostly, translucent landscape. The installation was conceived to provoke a critical look at the environmental and human damage inflicted by the oil and water industries in the last two centuries on regions as diverse as Nigeria and the United States.

According to Driscoll,

This installation is a continuation of a multi-year series which explores the dynamics of resource harvesting and consumption. This part of the series focuses on oil and water. Rising at 5:30 AM, I harvest #2 plastic bottles from the recycling bags put out for collection on the streets of Brooklyn. For one hour, one day at a time, I immerse myself in the tidal wave of plastic that engulfs us by collecting as many bottles as I can carry.

A nineteenth century trestle bridge plays host to an eighteenth century water-powered mill which spills a twenty-first century flood from its structure. The flow contains North American, Middle Eastern, and African landmasses buoyed by a sea of plastic water molecules.

Exhibition dates are September 26 – November 8, 2009 at Smack Mellon/Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009. Photos by See-ming Lee 李思明 on Flickr

10 Swell Water Wallpapers for your Desktop

Have you had that same old boring water drip and ripple decorating your desktop for years… or worse, whatever logoed billboard that came installed with your computer? Get out of your rut and try out one of these unique, distinctive water-themed wallpapers that just might give you a bright, colorful new perspective this week.

Save Water by =1ar on Devinant Art

Underwater 4 from Vlad Studio

Underwater 3 from Vlad Studio

Aquarium from Vlad Studio

Chalkboard Waterdrops by Farmidable

Ocean Swell by Duckfarm

Plastic = Drastic from Just Wallpaper

Water Flame via

I Spy with my Little Eye… via Becoming Minimalist

I Love Water from Adanvvv on Flickr

A Curiouser Alice in Waterland

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Everything is what is isn’t in the surrealistic world of Alice in Waterland, Elena Kalis‘s stunning re-interpretation of the Lewis Carroll classic imagined beneath the water’s surface. (Via and

This Russian-born artist, now living in the Bahamas, specializes in underwater photography; with her daughter as model and muse she has recreated the story in a fresh, new fantastical way.

From an interview with Elena Kalis on, the artist notes:

Alice in Wonderland is timeless. It’s open to interpretations and it’s up to you to make them. I decided to make it for a few reasons: this is my all time favorite book, my daughter Sacha is the same age as Alice (10) and very good at modeling underwater and, finally, the story itself seems like from some lucid different place…(underwater perhaps ?)

All photos © Elena Kalis