Explorations into water's unusual and essential attributes are added periodically to this page in featuring relevant documentaries, exhibitions, performances and public discussions. Links to current and previously featured explorations may be accessed by clicking on the contributor's name.
Many of the complex behaviors and structures we observe in the world arise from relatively simple interactions among their components. These interactions somehow manifest attributes that could never be predicted from studying the components alone. An example is the self-organization and subsequent functioning of physical, chemical, biological and other systems without any preexisting design or controlling influence. Whereas the “rules” governing interactions among individual components can sometimes be described (e.g., the switching of bonds that connect adjacent water molecules), this is insufficient to explain or predict a system because external factors influence the trajectory of phenomena. Science has no coherent explanation for emergence, which often appears hierarchically, such that the components of one system are, themselves, a result of interacting components within another system. Perhaps our brain's ability to conceal nature's complexity with oversimplified, but functional, causal relationships limits our understanding of emergence. The three videos below address emergent properties of water from the perspectives of science and art, as well as present a general overview of emergence.
Artist Colleen Flanigan explains the challenges facing coral reefs and how sculpture can serve both an aesthetic and an ecological function.
Scientist Arjen Hoekstra discusses the substantial impact of food choices on water resources via the use of water footprint calculations.
Artist Mara Haseltine talks about using art to design functional structures and to facilitate collaborations between scientists and artists.
Scientist Gerald Pollack talks about water's fourth physical phase and its applications to generating bioenergy to cleaning water itself.
Artist Pamela Longobardi documents the types and patterns of plastic wastes and then creates exhibits that draw attention to this ocean issue.
Engineer Kepa Morgan uses his professional expertise and indigenous wisdom to address water treatment and environmental remediation.