David Bowen

tele-present water


Werk - tele-present water
Artist / Artist group
David Bowen
tele-present water
Edition / Serial number
installation, computer-based
Material / Technique
Aluminium, wooden sticks, nylon threads, 17 servo motors (Futaba S3004), computer (Macmini, operating system: Mac OSX, software: Max/MSP); wave from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data buoy station 51003
Dimensions / Duration
131 x 120 x 53 cm
ZKM | Center for Art and Media

When artist David Bowen took a sailing trip on Lake Superior in Minnesota in 2010, he was fascinated by the waves’ movements against the boat and how quickly his body adapted to them. Even afterwards, with solid ground underfoot, he could still feel the water’s gentle motion. Bowen’s installation »tele-present water« attempts to recreate that effect of telepresence, the feeling of being present in a faraway place.

In his piece, a fragile lattice from wooden rods hangs from transparent nylon threads, seemingly suspended in space. The threads connect the lattice to a set of parallel rods. These, in turn, are connected to poles that move the whole installation by means of seventeen motors. Like the arms of a puppeteer, the poles rise and fall, setting off wave-like motions in the grid of parallel rods and the wooden lattice below.

»tele-present water« also links to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) buoy station 51003 in the Pacific, which records wave height and frequency data in real time and transmits it to the exhibition space. This means the installation’s movements correspond to actual information on Pacific Ocean waves. A computer translates the buoy’s data into mechanical movements for the wooden lattice to replicate. If the Pacific is calm, the installation moves in gentle waves, whereas stormy seas cause it to break into a wild dance.

»tele-present water« is an installation that fuses nature and technology, as well as indoor and outdoor space. In doing so, it grapples with questions of immediacy and involvement in a world where everything is connected to everything else.

Author: Julia Ihls

About the artist/s