Exploring Water’s Memory

Joshua Woo, Orestis Tilemachou, Zuzana Pabisova, Guanyan Wu

Our installation dives into the memory of water and its connection to the transformation of human activity. As a symbol of the ongoing changes and adaptations undergone by our planet, water becomes a carrier of memories and vital energy through which spirits can manifest. It holds its own history and knowledge which you can perceive if you are open to it, revealing a cautionary tale of what the future might hold. By questioning the binary dichotomies of what is considered living or dead, water is revered as a “living entity”.

At the heart of our installation is an inoperable freezer system. At the end of its functional life, it resembles a dormant creature of myth. Once a vessel for preserving perishable items, it now exists in a transitory, latent state. It’s transitioning from mechanical, artificial processes to others that are natural and organic – from refrigeration to the growth of borax crystals. This shift encourages reflection on the interplay between the artificial and the natural, the manufactured and the organic, underscoring our intricate relationship with technology and the environment. It highlights the potential for unexpected outcomes and unintended consequences – even in its state of inoperability, the installation allows for new forms of life to emerge and grow.

The freezer parts are covered in borax, a naturally occurring mineral compound that forms when water evaporates, leaving mineral deposits behind. Historically used as a cleaning agent and preservative, borax carries associations with purification and preservation.

The shape of the freezer system is informed by that of a serpent, historically regarded as representing wisdom, hidden truths, and the cycle of life and death. A serpent is able to shed its old skin, transform, and emerge over and over again. Serpents are also widely recognised as symbols of fertility and rebirth across many cultures. Thus, the serpent of wisdom becomes a metaphor for the transformative nature of water, concealing hidden truths within its symbolic form.

The installation features ice panels whose superficial texture resembles that of a frog’s skin. Frogs are known as indicator species due to their ability to sense subtle changes in the environment. As the panels gradually melt and release water, they facilitate a process of absorption and interaction with the sculpture's surroundings. This highlights the intricate interdependence between water, the sculpture, and the environment.

Through an imaginative narrative that reveals unforeseen interconnections, our project aims to confront the pressing need to address the ramifications of human activity on the environment. By weaving a speculative tale, we want to seek beyond familiar concepts of life and explore plausible scenarios of what life might represent in the future.