ArtworkMemory of Water > Thoughts in Process

80% watercrystal mirrorsnature of memory
water as verbwater beings

context texture

Eighty Percent

Some things that we know about water:

  • We know that water is vital to life.
  • We know that we cannot survive without it for more than one day.
  • We know that we are almost eighty percent water.
  • We know that all the water on earth is continually recycled.
  • We know that it is an almost universal solvent.
  • We know that it seems to be made out of oxygen and Hydrogen molecules.
  • We know that it forms new bonds all the time.
  • We think that it retains traces of its environment for an indefinite period of time.

Eighty percent is what one wanted at school. It's 'cum laude', its a sign of excellence. it's the closest to a hundred percent most of us ever manage. it might just be that the universe also works in approximations like eighty percent. we are not 'just' water - the other twenty percent makes a big difference to what we seem to be. In an ideologically (capitalist) defined life such as the one we live in, we are continually pressurised towards complete answers. Always looking for the ultimate, and things are either 100 % in or out or right or wrong. Doubt has little room in such a world. We avoid its discomfort at all costs, but if you are only 80% sure of something, the other 20% could have an enormous effect on who you turn out to be, or where you could go. In attempting to create this exhibition, I have probably only managed to express 80% of the original vision. The 20 % of concepts that I didn't get to, discarded, or never even thought of will end up being just as important as those that did manifest. I hope that they find form in your imagination.

In creating this exhibition, I've been painfully aware of the enormity of the task. One can never presume that one has said everything there is to say about a subject as vast and complicated as water. Even 80% of what can be expressed, is beyond my reach.


Crystal Mirrors

These objects light-heartedly refer to the fairy tale 'mirror mirror on the wall' - engraved with the images of water crystals that resulted when Dr Emoto imprinted water with words such as 'you are beautiful' and 'wisdom', it is supposed that these images will in turn imprint on the viewer (being 80 percent water), with similar effect.


Nature of Memory

I interpret my role as picture taker in my family as one of 'memory maker' - where my pictures eventually replace any 'real' memory any of us had of a time or occasion. In the vocabulary of my dreams, my camera and picture albums symbolise my ability to remember. Paradoxically, I have taken hundreds of images of water, which have almost no memory-value attached to them at all except if structured in a specific chronological context (like a photo album), or containing a space-specific clue, or (most significantly) a beloved person is present in the picture.


Water as a collective verb

We know that language shapes our thoughts and actions. Huge wisdom and many wonderful clues to our views are contained in the way we say things. Sometimes, if we can change the meaning of a word, or the way it is structured and either honoured or debased in context, we can change the power of the concept. Our commercial ways have managed to do that quite well with previously sacred concepts such as 'Jesus saves', or our daily greeting: 'hallo' - originally meaning something closer to 'hallow(ed)' - an acknowledgement of the other's sacredness.

If one could conceive of water not as a singular noun, but more of a collective verb, one would be closer to understanding the true nature of this force. It showers, streams, rains, runs, glides, storms or steams, but it does so as millions of separate water(s) that we can only distinguish as drops when completely separated from other drops for a short while. Whenever water is reunited with itself, the separateness dissolves immediately. It easily separates, but there is no resistance to reuniting, since all the separate drops flow and rise to the same laws: refuse no one, seek out the lowest places, and nourish all.

Is it a coincidence that the two other nouns that are really closer to verbs are 'love' and 'life' ? Could either exist without the nourishment and flow of water? Could water be the physical manifestation of these two hallowed concepts?


Being water/ Water beings

This series of portraits portray people that I love in their various and different relationships.

We generally consider water as something that has to be contained in order for it to be 'useful' to us. Is this not a very naive perspective? Being on the water planet, being born and living by the grace of water - we are actually contained in the very water that sustains and forms us. Could it be that it is our containing/ filtering/ memorising of water that makes us useful to this life force?

Artworks in process... (became part of Body of Water canvas print series)


Posted 16 December 2008,, author: Anni Snyman

All work is under a Creative Commons Copyright Licence.