Rather than resorting to heavy, often depressing doomsday predictions about the plight of the planet and all its living creatures — including us — art has the potential of bringing environmental awareness deeper under the collective radar. We’ve talked about how MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program does exactly that, especially during the last few years with public installations created out of compostable mushroom bricks and air-cleaning sculptures.
In keeping with the theme of celebrating healthy water systems, while highlighting the water troubles of the world, the latest annual installation over at MoMA PS1 Gallery isCOSMO, an enormous water-purifying sculpture designed by New York City and Madrid-based Spanish architect Andrés Jaque. See how it was designed and made:
Conceived as a “moveable artifact” that is built out of off-the-shelf agricultural irrigation components, COSMO is capable of filtering 3,000 gallons of water over the space of four days. The process involves eliminating particles and nitrates, balancing the pH and increasing the level of dissolved oxygen. Once the cycle is completed, the stretchy plastic mesh at the center of the sculpture will light up, a perfect accompaniment to the various outdoor summer programming and music that happens in the gallery’s courtyard.
The architect — who believes that architecture has a political role — says that the project draws attention to how urban water ecosystems of pipes and waterways work, while also emphasizing the UN’s prediction that two-thirds of the world won’t have sufficient access to water by 2025 — a situation made worse by climate change and cross-border conflicts.
The design focuses on less energy-intensive methods of water purification, so plants were used to clean water, and are fed with it, as they hang from various points in the installation.
The sculpture is mobile and has been designed to reproduced anywhere in the world, to bring clean water to people who might need it most. Jaque explains that the point is to focus on solutions and the fun of producing clean water, rather than the dire statistics:
But above all, COSMO is a party-artifact that moves to go there wherever the party happens. It is a device meant to gather people together, as pleasant and climatically comfortable as a garden and at the same time as visually rich as a mirrored disco ball. [..] With COSMO, the party is literally lit up every time the environment is being protected.
Balance is key in addressing these issues: the problems are there, but the way out is to concentrate on the positive solutions, instead of lingering on the negatives, and this inspiring, ecologically quirky installation does just that. COSMO will be up until September 7, 2015; more over at MoMA PS1 Gallery and Andrés Jaque’s Office for Political Innovation.