Category Archives: Sculpture

Warka Water Towers

Last week, Wired Magazine had this to say about the Warka Water Towers project,  ”Around the world, 768 million people don’t have access to safe water, and every day 1,400 children under the age of five die from water-based diseases. Designer Arturo Vittori believes the solution to this catastrophe lies not in high technology, but in sculptures that look like giant-sized objects from the pages of a Pier 1 catalog.

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His stunning water towers stand nearly 30 feet tall and can collect over 25 gallons of potable water per day by harvesting atmospheric water vapor. Called WarkaWater towers, each pillar is comprised of two sections: a semi-rigid exoskeleton built by tying stalks of juncus or bamboo together and an internal plastic mesh, reminiscent of the bags oranges come in. The nylon and polypropylene fibers act as a scaffold for condensation, and as the droplets of dew form, they follow the mesh into a basin at the base of the structure.

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Vittori decided to devote his attention to this problem after visiting northeastern Ethiopia and seeing the plight of remote villagers first hand. “There, people live in a beautiful natural environment but often without running water, electricity, a toilet or a shower,” he says. To survive, women and their children walk for miles to worm-filled ponds contaminated with human waste, collect water in trashed plastic containers or dried gourds, and carry the heavy containers on treacherous roads back to their homes. This process takes hours and endangers the children by exposing them to dangerous illnesses and taking them away from school, ensuring that a cycle of poverty repeats.

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Exposure to this horrific scene motivated Vittori to take action. “WarkaWater is designed to provide clean water as well as ensure long-term environmental, financial and social sustainability,” he says. “Once locals have the necessary know how, they will be able to teach others villages and communities to build the WarkaWater towers.” Each tower costs approximately $550 and can be built in under a week with a four-person team and locally available materials.

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A more obvious solution to a water shortage would be digging a well, but drilling 1,500 feet into Ethiopia’s rocky plateaus is expensive. Even when a well is dug, maintaining pumps and ensuring a reliable electrical connection makes the proposition unlikely.

Instead of looking to Western technology for a solution, Vittori was inspired by the Warka tree, a giant, gravity-defying domed tree native to Ethiopia that sprouts figs and is used as a community gathering space. “To make people independent, especially in such a rural context it’s synonymous of a sustainable project and guarantees the longevity,” says Vittori. “Using natural fibers helps the tower to be integrated with the landscape both visually with the natural context as well as with local traditional techniques.”

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“The design has been two years in the making and though the final product is handcrafted, Vittori has used the same parametric modeling skills honed working on aircraft interiors and solar powered cars to create a solution that is safe and stunning. The 88-pound sculpture is 26-feet wide at its broadest point but swoops dramatically to just a few feet across at its smallest point. Vittori and his team have tested the design in multiple locations and worked in improvements that increase the frame’s stability while simultaneously making it easy for villagers to clean the internal mesh.

Vittori hopes to have two WarkaTowers erected in Ethiopia by 2015 and is looking for financial rainmakers who’d like to seed these tree-inspired structures across the country.”

warka water

…from a post at WiredMagazine. Thanks LaVieEstBelle

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The March of the Strandbeests

Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist who makes wind-powered sculpture, the Strandbeests, or beach animals, which are kinetic sculpture made from plastic tubing and water bottles, gracefully  lumbering (or is that an oxymoron?) across the beaches of Scheveningen, Holland, by the winds of the North Sea alone…

strandbeest, theo jansen

He describes them here as, ‘Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach. This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind. This is done using a variety of bicycle pump, needless to say of plastic tubing. Several of these little pumps are driven by wings up at the front of the animal that flap in the breeze. It takes a few hours, but then the bottles are full. They contain a supply of potential wind. Take off the cap and the wind will emerge from the bottle at high speed. The trick is to get that untamed wind under control and use it to move the animal. For this, muscles are required. Beach animals have pushing muscles which get longer when told to do so. These consist of a tube containing another that is able to move in and out. There is a rubber ring on the end of the inner tube so that this acts as a piston. When the air runs from the bottles through a small pipe in the tube it pushes the piston outwards and the muscle lengthens. The beach animal’s muscle can best be likened to a bone that gets longer. Muscles can open taps to activate other muscles that open other taps, and so on. This creates control centres that can be compared to brains’.

 

A.SCHLICHTER5 from Strandbeest on Vimeo.

…Jansen has also created 3D printer miniature model beasts and the kits can be bought here.  Read an article by Ian Frazier in The New Yorker on Jansen and his articulated beasts here and another of their  articles on Lena Herzog’s photographs of his sculptures here. When asked what she found most unexpected while photographing this project, she said, “That it could make an optimist out of a Russian. They make you think and they make you dream. In this disenchanted world, they re-enchant you, not in a falsely sweet or obvious way but in a special form of enchantment. I have even seen dogs go wild and horses balk at the sight of the Strandbeests. What more could you possibly ask of a work of art?”…

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‘Eye, Heart, Spleen’

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Here’s how U.K .based Guatamalan-born Camila Carlow describes her lovely work, “‘Eye Heart Spleen’ is a body of work made out of 13 photographs representing human organs sculpted out of wild plants and weeds foraged in Bristol.  The plants were collected and assembled early in the day, so as to photograph them in the best possible light, and to keep them from wilting.  This work invites the viewer to regard our vital structures as beautiful living organisms, and to contemplate the miraculous work taking place inside our bodies, even in this very moment.“…

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…prints are available at Camilla’s Etsy shop

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