Water Stories

Water Stories: digital media narratives in Kitchener City Hall Rotunda @NightShiftWR

Samarian Woman 28 launched as a new collective in Waterloo Region atNight\Shift14. This event on the first of November, 2014 saw the installation of two creations by our collective.

Water Stories

Water Stories

We created a site-specific inter-arts installation for Kitchener City Hall’s Rotunda. For this project, we gathered and remixed the words and voices of five women from the local community and captured recordings of water sounds and textures. The sound recordings are mixed over eight channels to create a surround sound, accompanied by the projection of waterscapes on the Rotunda floor – video of the Grand River watershed.

We live because water sustains us and moves us through our entire lives. For women, water represents a particularly compelling force; the tides pull our bodies and our babies are delivered through water.  

This project examined water as a physical element: drawing analogical comparisons between rural spaces and urban spaces (a drain from a managed lake mirroring the ceiling of the Rotunda); showing human intervention on the watershed (images of waste in the water, human modifications over the watershed); displaying the natural watershed (primary images using layers of floating leaves, reflections and shadows, and underwater elements); and transposing these into the dry, concrete and sandstone spaces of a downtown through a large scale projection. The effect sometimes mirrored the urban landscape. It sometimes challenged it.

The eight channels of sound built an  immersive experience, drawing the audience into the water with the natural sounds of water, multilingual lullabies and songs about water, noises, sounds broadening the narrative into a human element. The sound inserted the lives, the voices, the bodies of women into the space broadening the  narrative into a human element.

Throughout the installation, words by women from the Grand River watershed were played over the eight channels.  Stories and poetry by Heidi Burrows, Julia Krauss, Katie Parks and Tanya Korigan ranged in topic from water as a spiritual element, water as a life giver, water as a cleanser, to water as analogy for death. These were in stories that spoke of coming of age, divorce, relationships, children, and acceptance.  Physical performer, Julia Krauss delivered powerful performance pieces on the projection to these words.

The installation required the audience to move around to experience the full scope. An audience member standing in the middle of the Rotunda was immersed in sound, colour, and light, inserted into the tableau as the art themselves. It inspired an intergenerational playful response, with audience interacting with various pieces of both projection and sound scape. The audience members who travelled to the mezzanine level were surprised with a full image tableau of crystal clear video, sound reduced to a  mono-channel and a view of fellow audience inserted and playing in the elements below.

Water Stories was made possible by much help from Sherwood Systems, Christie Digital, and REAP.


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