DRIP: THE MUSIC OF WATER IN NEW ORLEANS, 2011
Drip: The Music of Water in New Orleans is a sound installation created by John Kleinschmidt and Andy Sternad, intern architects at Waggoner & Ball. This highly respected, local architecture firm notably earned a contract with Greater New Orleans Inc. (GNO) in 2008 to develop the “Comprehensive Sustainable Integrated Water Management Strategy” for St. Bernard Parish and the east banks of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes – all areas that experience intense flooding even during normal rainfalls. Kleinschmidt and Sternad became interested in making Drip while participating in Waggonner & Ball’s Dutch Dialogues’ initiative to develop better water management strategies in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. Led by architect Edward Waggoner, this endeavor began in January of 2006 when a delegation of Louisianians traveled to the Netherlands, a country that has been leading the world in effective water management strategies since their own flood disaster in 1953. Thirty months after Huricane Katrina the Dutch Dialogues officially began and have since evolved into a series of workshops hosted in New Orleans addressing fundamental infrastructure problems in our current water management structure - as well as an ongoing discourse between Dutch and Louisianian engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, and city planners.
Drip was originally shown at the Union Passenger Terminal in 2010 for DesCours, an annual public art and architecture event in New Orleans. Unlike its 2010 presentation where viewers activated the piece, Kleinschmidt and Sternad have installed Drip specifically in the CAC’s Sound Chamber so that the lights respond to the sounds of water rather than those of the viewer. This two-channel audio piece pairs interactive, sound-sensitive LED’s with field recordings of over twenty-five sites near water in the Greater New Orleans area. By placing the sensors closer to the speakers the lights are triggered by the volume of the tracks, compiled of over one hundred and fifty sounds, stories, and interviews from and about the New Olreans waterscape. As viewers pause in the Sound Chamber, a symphony of sounds interacts simultaneously with light, reflecting a chaotic and serene environment that mirrors water’s relationship to the city.
Architects by trade, the creators of Drip, like many artists, hold the belief that the health of a culture is dependent on the quality of its art and discourse. Combining a shared fascination with New Orleans’ musical culture and the certainty that the city’s future rests on the development of a collective consciousness about water management, Drip was composed to heighten our awareness of water through sound. The pursuit of alternative ways to discuss our aquatic environment has led Kleinschmidt and Sternad to “Shallow Lab,” a creative endeavor that aims to present more projects like Drip in New Orleans. One called Soak will be showing later this year at The Front, an artist-run collective in the St. Claude Arts District of New Orleans. As residents of New Orleans continue to face the same threat that devastated the city in 2005, Drip strives to engage a broader audience in the positive and progressive dialogues being cultivated in Orleans Parish today regarding wate
dripnola.com is a catalogue of recordings, photos, and other media related to the designers’ audio-based search for New Orleans’ hidden water. The Drip book is available for purchase or free download here.