Giant luminous words float beneath the surface of the Main. Wind sends movement across them, and when a boat passes the words lift, ripple and settle. In their glow the three-dimensional life of the River’s interior at night becomes visible. This reveals what would normally be a flat surface of water at night to be a three-dimensional volume, with its own space and life at night. We see the fish swimming through the murk and the weed, we see the discarded bottles and the lost shopping trolleys.
“If Words Were Water” is a huge submerged artwork that explores the human relationships with and attachments to, water. It investigates the contradictions between our stewardship of water and our feelings of ownership over it. We talk of the course of a river as one of the metaphors for the paths our lives take, but seldom regard a river as one indivisible thing. Water is a basic human need, yet we take it for granted and are careless with it, we fight over it, we hoard it, and we use it to dispose of our waste.
Beneath the surface of the Main though after thought rises up and then fades to invisibility, at first huge and then drifting away downstream.
Marcus McShane is one of New Zealand’s most prolific lighting designers, having produced over 400 designs and installation works. He has seventeen art and design awards, and in New Zealand has won lighting designer of the year for 2011, 2013 and 2017 and in 2020 he will have new works in Vivid Sydney, Light Nelson, and the NZ Festival. His interests include growing vegetables, building bicycles, and reading things worth reading.
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