Monday, August 30, 2010

What is the Color of Water?

What is the color of water?

I haven't a clue although the question crosses into consciousness on a regular basis.

A glass of water resting at my bedside, the rushing river powered by snow melt off the mountains, the peaceful glacial lake in the North Cascades, the rolling waves of the southern Caribbean pounding the north coastline of a certain volcanic island.......what color?

What of the day-in, day-out color of the Hudson River, the working waterway of the northeast? The river that flows both ways also known as Muhheakantuck by the Native Americans is the subject of Spencer Finch's art installation in Manhattan's newest park, the High Line. Located in the Chelsea Market overpass, the expanse of stained glass panes appears at first look to be part of the old building that once housed the above ground railway. Not.
The plaque on the wall tells all. Artist Spencer Finch "from a tugboat drifting on Manhattan's west side and past the High Line,  photographed the river's surface once every minute. The color of each pane of glass was based on a single pixel point in each photograph and arranged chronologically in the tunnel’s existing steel mullions. Time is translated into a grid, reading from left to right and top to bottom, capturing the varied reflective and translucent conditions of the water's surface. The work, like the river, is experienced differently depending on the light levels and atmospheric conditions of the site. In this narrative orientation, the glass reveals Finch's impossible quest for the color of water".

As much as I love the shifting qualities inherent in the color of water in this impressively large piece (some 720 individual panes of stained glass), what amazes me is how easily we (I) forget that water reflects back the ambient light and how quickly conditions change moment to moment if we dare to notice. Water is all these shades of itself, from inky black to white.

All this brings me back to the the mesmerizing color of the Caribbean waters of Aruba. Wouldn't such a wall of stained glass reflecting the complexity of her colors amaze and delight?  Another project, Mr. Finch?


  1. Beautiful! I will never forget the jeweled shades of the Carribean waters.
    I also LOVE the birthday gift your husband gave you. I love glass things. (Tina)

  2. I've been wondering about the color of water, too, given all the different bodies of water I have been near this year. That stained glass window is amazing and true.


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