Hydrologic arc is an in-progress immersive, 4-channel, 180° video installation. The piece makes reference to the historical panorama, a 19th Century form of mass media that combined painting, early photography, lighting and other special effects to transport the viewer into a scene or a landscape. Mirroring our current obsession with VR and immersive screens, and encountering the entanglements of ecological crisis and landscape preservation, this combination of old and new is employed to follow the cultural and natural history of the Brandywine River – a site of historical importance as the first location for widespread American factory industry in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Using 4K and 360° recording technologies, the immersive video is projected on a 120’ wide x 10′ tall arc of windows that make up the western wall of the museum and overhang the River below. The video itself traces the path of a single drop of water down the course of the Brandywine (which flows at an average of 279 cubic feet per second) and documents the local communities through which it flows. From the river’s headwaters among the farms of the Honey Brook Township, through industrial towns like Coatesville and the rolling hills of Chadds Ford, to its emergence as drinking water for half a million people in the city of Wilmington, hydrologic arc presents the river and its people through four seasons, blending views from the Brandywine landscape with on-water shots, and depicting the complexity of human and non-human actors in this ecological chain. The piece will be presented at the Brandywine River Museum in April – May 2017, after which it may travel to another local contemporary art center. A key component of the project is the audio soundtrack, which will be recorded and mixed for a 12 channel audio system, and stitch together field recordings I have made over the past year with synthesized sound and interviews with local stakeholders.

Visitors to the museum will encounter the piece as it is projected on the wall of treated windows, in a darkened space. Speakers and projection equipment will be housed in custom built furniture that guides the viewer through the space and avoids blocking/shadows on the projection itself. At certain times of day, light from outside will infiltrate the projected image, exposing the river beneath the museum’s walls.

Sketches of the Installation at the Brandywine Museum

Examples of historical panoramas