What if water is a witness? Surrounding Brooklyn, and neighborhoods like Red Hook, water remains a constant in a rapidly changing borough. Human history fluctuates over time, rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, booming and busting. What if water has absorbed it all?
In Maritime Messaging: Red Hook, artist Katherine Behar trained an artificial intelligence on the history of Red Hook in order to help the water to tell its story. Using underwater sound recordings, Maritime Messaging staged a mock conversation between the water of Red Hook and a digital assistant app that invited the water to send messages and translated its gurgles into words. The resulting phrases were generated by an artificial neural network, a form of artificial intelligence. The poetic outcome suggests a mysterious glimpse into the water's muddled memories of Red Hook's maritime past.
On October 29, 2017, to commemorate the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, fifteen performers journeyed from Wall Street to Red Hook on NYC Ferry boats. Standing as witnesses, they listened to the water and used iPads to broadcast its conversation. An unannounced performer, Tropical Storm Phillipe, made a guest appearance during the performance. Upstaging its human counterparts, Phillipe recalled the ghost of Sandy and underscored water's vital impact.
The historic oil tanker the MARY A. WHALEN, home of PortSide NewYork, presented a sound installation with the gurgling ocean and AI's conversation reverberating through its metallic hull.