The day came to install the water wheels, film them with the drone and absorb the sense of them being part of the landscape. It was a beautiful morning with patchy cloud which created rich patterns, shadows and colours on the water surface. The interesting thing was that when we installed the waterwheels in exactly the location where we tested them, they failed to turn at all. Clearly, the recent rain had changed the current in the river and that location was now a stationary eddy. So it was a case of moving the line further upstream towards the bend where the water could clearly be seen to be moving. In reality, the new location was actually more potent as it was within the bend of the river, it was on the turn rather than just before it and judging how my project was very much concerned with the meandering nature of the rive this added more tension to the piece.
The filming itself was superb, the drone was able to travel towards the waterwheels then spin around them and pull away. I felt quite tense about everything working as it should but kept reminding myself to let the fate of nature take over and just enjoy the experience. The overriding feeling was one of the full scale of the river and how it entirely swallowed my insignificant intervention. I’m heard from others how the installation of site-specific work can often illicit this feeling but to experience it first hand gave me a new appreciation of my own influence on natural forces.
I edited the footage down to 1 minutes of the best material and added a simple sound track of a close up recording of the paddles turning on the water. The mechanical squeaks and flops mixed with birds singing is a wonderful combination and I think this is all this is needed. Any more audio would rob viewers of a moment to reflect.
Summary & next steps
The footage was as good as could be expected and adds an extra context to the close up of the paddles turning. My next consideration is whether to include the footage in the exhibition, to provide a link to it or to exclude it altogether. I have the still images of the live event as proof that it took place and I don’t want the technology to cloud the real value of what I have done in creating the water wheels, choosing the words and ‘being present’ myself. I need to stand back and think once again about what I want to evoke from the installation; the live event was a culmination of many other activities and I don’t want it to overshadow everything. I’m leaning towards providing a link to the video, or at least projecting it outside of the booth to avoid deflecting from the most pertinent projection of my passion for the river.