Without a doubt, computing has changed private and personal lives. But how has it, and how might it, change the public realm? WaterBar is an example of the ongoing initiative Public Computational Media, which is the investigation into the potential of information systems to reinvigorate the public realm.
The installation WaterBar is a public water well designed for the post-sustainability age when clean water is simply not good enough.
WaterBar geoengineers mineralized water. The process begins with a cleaning stage via an anthracite filter, which is followed by a remineralization stage through a filter bank with select chemical properties. Water in contact with these filters receives measurable traces of magnesium, iron, calcium, and other elements. But the filters also share, through origin and history, a connection to place. Water travels the world in endless cycles of evaporation and rainfall. A drop of water in Africa today may be a drop of water in Europe in the future. WaterBar accelerates the global flow of water through many regions of the planet and produces a drinkable water mix in the process.
WaterBar includes quartz-rich granite from Inada, south of Fukushima in Japan, home of the latest devastating high-tech catastrophe; sandstone from La Verna, Italy, where St. Francis cared for the poor; marble from Thassos, Greece, source of art and architecture, and the beginning and possible end of democracy; limestone from Jerusalem/Hebron, Israel, a place of seemingly eternal conflict and shared hopes; and basalt from Mount Merapi, Indonesia, an unpredictable active volcano.
An internet-scanning, text-processing control system continuously circulates water through these filters, exposing the water to trace elements of the minerals and rocks. An algorithm mixes this remineralized water in proportion to the intensity of related problems found in pertinent real-time news to create a daily mineralized water mix—the catch of the day. This is offered for public consumption and available only as long as limited supplies last.
For more information about Mark Böhlen and his work, please visit realtechsupport.org.