What happens when art and environment meet in a dark alley?


Last week Chicago was home to an art installation called FLOW/Im Fluss that created a dramatic intersection between our rivers, the data that helps us understand these dynamic systems, and how we can visualize that data in a way that’s both beautiful and engaging to a broader audience.  The stunning installation featured light projected onto a cascading screen of fine water droplets in Couch Place Alley, one of the first alleyways in the City of Chicago to be repaved with permeable pavers— a nice touch that further highlighted the connection between Chicago’s streets and the health of its namesake river.










Photography: Jyoti Srivastava

FLOW projected images onto a screen of falling water, creating a fascinating three dimensional display of light that people could both watch and walk through. Many of the projections were visualizations of scientific data on the health of the nearby Chicago River, such as dissolved oxygen levels, flow, and chemical pollution in the river itself.

This beautiful project was made possible by the Goethe-Institut Chicago and the Chicago Loop Alliance, in collaboration with NRDC. The artists Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero  of Luftwerk (pictured below) designed and built the installation, which was on display in Chicago from September 17th-20th.

Photography: Jyoti Srivastava

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This project is a great example of how the arts and environmental community can work together to highlight the issues and challenges facing our society in a compelling and engaging way.  This has been a growing area of interest at NRDC and it’s been rewarding to have played a very small role on this ambitious project.