PUMP, FILTER, REFLECT
A site-specific three-story, five-channel, 16mm film and video sculpture-installation built into the massive brass and iron pumping engines and infrastructure of Boston's Metropolitan Waterworks Museum. A collaboration with filmmakers Christina Hunt and Anto Astudillo, with live sound by musicians Brendan Murray and Mem1. 29' wide x 60' long x 34' high. September 2016.
The Waterworks was one of the country's first metropolitan water systems, built in 1887 to bring water from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir into Boston proper. By light of day, the six massive tanks into which pump, filter, reflect was built:
Presented at Temporal Currents: Experimental Film and Sound at the Waterworks Museum a one-night experimental film and sound event exploiting the peculiarities of the old pumping station as a non-traditional cinema space and concert venue. New life was breathed into the 130-year-old brass and iron machinery by means of multiple 16mm and video projections created specificallly for the site by filmmakers from the AgX Film Collective, and by the sonic explorations of NonEvent musicians. Projectors were placed throughout the facility, shining moving image onto its many curved and textured surfaces, obstructed and shaped by the geometry of its numerous valves, pistons, and gears.
pump, filter, reflect celebrates the industrial and its demand for the physical engagement of the body with labor and materiality, as well as the creative intellectual labor it necessitates. The installation reactivates the “dead” behemoth with ghosts of those who performed the massive and repetitive physical, industrial and creative labor in the construction and maintenance of this gargantuan social and environmental engineering project. Installation views:
The use of analog 16mm film and its apparatuses (archival footage of the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, loops, projectors, and floating scrims of sewn filmstrips embedded in the machinery) highlights the industrial origins and processes embedded in the creative act of filmmaking. Film’s ability to transform and transport light in the service of memory parallels the Waterworks’ (latent) ability to reorganize and transport another primary element -- water -- for the sustenance of life.
Creating the hanging scrims of clear 16mm film leader:
The Waterworks is a truly remarkable space from a time when architecture was designed not just for function, but to uplift and magnify human endeavor.
The Waterworks Museum is located on the site of the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping station. By the 1880s, Boston’s water system couldn’t keep up with the rapid growth of the city and its water needs. Chestnut Hill was identified as the location for a new reservoir and main pumping station. The original station was built in 1887, but by the 1890s, it was clear that demand had quickly outstripped the ability to transport sufficient water. The need for more water resulted in the installation of increasingly powerful (and enormous!) pumping engines, which operated every day until the 1970s, when the site was taken offline, and Boston’s water supply shifted to the Quabbin Reservoir.