Ripple Effect by Dorsey Kaufmann
Persistent deterioration of land, air, and water are largely invisible to the eye and camera lens. What if water could visualize its quality and perform the level of contamination? Ripple Effect is an art installation that reveals water contamination through water, sound and light. Using software technology, water contamination levels are translated into sound waves. The installation consists of sound stations that have speakers with trays of water placed on top. Each station represents a different contaminant that is measured (e.g. arsenic). The speaker plays the soundtrack of the data, which generates sonic vibrations that create ripple patterns in the water. Participants hear and see the water vibrate based on the chemical concentrations detected in their community’s water. The more active the water, the higher the contaminant concentration. Lining each speaker is an LED light strip, which lights up each time the data points exceed a Maximum Contaminant Level set by a regulatory agency – indicating whether or not the water is safe for use. Ripple Effect travels to communities neighboring industrial pollution, active or legacy mining, and/or toxic release sites to communicate environmental quality data to participants. During the local data-sharing events, participants received a flash drive containing their personalized data to plug into the sound stations.