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waterlines


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waterlines


 

"In early October 2015, South Carolina was hit with massive flooding.

Schools were closed to students as residents were forced out of their homes by flooding and lack of running water and electricity; some were used as local shelters by the Red Cross to house those displaced. According to a report by The State newspaper, more than 102,000 South Carolinians had registered with FEMA for assistance by the end of 2015, when damage to private homes and property, infrastructure, and tourism was valued at $1.5 billion."

"Multiple dams failed, causing rivers and creeks to overflow, and spillover contributed to flooding in surrounding areas. In many areas, exact water levels and rainfall were unable to be recorded, because many of the US Geological Survey (USGS) gauges used to measure these statistics were damaged or washed away. The Congaree River, which flows through Columbia, South Carolina's capital city, reached discharge flow rates of 185,000 cubic feet per second before the USGS gauge measuring stage height and flow rates apparently began to fail. Stories like these two were reported all over the state, as the water, and its impact, literally became immeasurable."

Flooded by Jordan Young

Flooded by Jordan Young

"The absence of formal documentation from the media and science communities alike identified a common need in affected South Carolina communities to come together to consider the story of the floods. In response to this, "Waterlines" was chosen as the theme for the 2016 edition of lndie Grits [April 14-17, 2016], a Columbia-based annual festival of film, art, music, and technology, presented by the nonprofit Nickelodeon Theatre. For this 10th annual iteration of IG, Waterlines took part of its southeastern flavored programming to the edge of the Congaree, encouraging a direct engagement between the community and its river. (Headlining the musical performances there was bounce queen Big Freedia-a New Orleans native who is no stranger to the impact of floods, and who has been outspoken about her experiences during and after Hurricane Katrina.) A selection of original artworks commissioned for Waterlines is presented here; all of them seek to provide context, documentation, and a place for reflection on the floods on 2015, their impact in South Carolina, and their significance well beyond it."

Bruce Lampros
Art Papers, May/June 2016

 
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Josh Yates


underbelly up

Josh Yates


underbelly up

 

"Underbelly Up is an autobiographical work that seeks to cope with the film maker's personal and deeply surreal experience of the flood by producing something of the same intensity-in the director's words, a "hallucinatory visual landscape"particularly with regard to the order and disorder of things. The result is a reflection upon "tangibility, dream spaces, hoarding, fragmenting, and media-made-self."

– Bruce Lampros
Art Papers, May/June 2016

 

Making Underbelly Up

Josh Yates discusses the events that influenced his film Underbelly Up that premiered at Indie Grits 2016. 

I woke up to a phone call from my friends Adam and Matt telling me they were in a cabin that was filling with water. Adam then sent me a video of water flowing across the floor. For there to be water at their feet it meant the water had risen about 10 feet. Apparently Matt had passed out in a chair and woke up because his feet were submerged. 

Bill (Adam's brother) and I quickly got dressed and began a trek through raging water atop what used to be a driveway. It was surreal. There were no lights, just moonlit shadows and intensely loud sounds of moving water. We had to yell to communicate. Bill and I buddied up, arms over shoulders, and slowly moved toward the cabin, trying to get as close as we could. 

We reached a point where the water was too deep, enough for our heads to go under, but we were close enough to talk with Adam and Matt. They stood on the porch and I'm pretty sure we awkwardly laughed together. Luckily they found a rope that they threw to us and we then tied to a tree. Adam and Bill made it to higher ground, but Matt and I lost our footing and we were temporarily separated. We both individually used the tree line as anchors to make our way to safety. 

Once dry and back inside, we sat around my living room and talked about what had just happened. We repeated the same story over and over, slowly convincing ourselves this crazy experience had actually happened. I'm fortunate our friend Tony slept on my couch and wasn't with us. I can't imagine navigating through that water with another person. It's still hard to grasp how everything somehow worked out. Another person, having a pet with us, a momentary loss of footing…all of these possibilities could have negatively affected the outcome. I wish I had recorded our hours of conversation that morning, but I didn't.

This experience led to my ongoing oral history project in which I’m conducting audio-only interviews with community members directly affected by the flood. My intention is to donate this collection to the USC Libraries’ Office of Oral History. This work in addition to my personal experience served as inspiration for my new experimental nonfiction film Underbelly Up. While the soundscape synthesizes my oral history work through improvisational dialogue, the visuals draw from an archive of flood-related imagery, filtered through analog modulations and hand-processed 16mm celluloid.

– Josh Yates, Nickelodeon Theatre Filmmaker-in-Residence 2015-16
Article from Nick Mag, Summer 2016, Issue #005


Three oral histories out of a collection of interviews from the Waterlines Project that Josh is donating to the USC Libraries’ Office of Oral History. These interviews inspired the language and imagery used in Yates' experimental film, Underbelly Up (as seen above).

 
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Roni Nicole Henderson


{break}through

Roni Nicole Henderson


{break}through

"break{through} is a filmic attempt to harness the emotional memory of the movement of water through South Carolina.

The work follows nine dancers-a number chosen in reference to the nine people killed at Charleston's Emanuel AME in June 2015-who interpret the work of choreographer Kwame A. Ross, to a score by composer Venecia Flowers, in a collaborative attempt to represent, reflect upon, and ultimately begin to heal, through-ritual, a broken state."

– Bruce Lampros,
Art Papers, May/June 2016



"Facing the vestiges of a tumultuous year in South Carolina, Roni Nicole Henderson is exploring the connections between more than one tragedy that struck our state last year.

Her short film break{through} attempts to map these recent emotional memories through South Carolina’s major waterways and the bodies of nine dancers, honoring the nine victims of the Charleston church massacre.

Created in collaboration with choreographer Kwame A. Ross and composer Venecia Flowers, the film begins at the Emanuel AME Church in the “Holy City” and travels to Columbia with its confluence of rivers. Stopping to visit sites of flood trauma, the film is an attempt to help the state heal from all of its recent devastation."

– Seth Gadsden
Waterlines curator, festival co-director

 
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Jordan Young


flooded

Jordan Young


flooded

"The primary materials of Flooded are firsthand accounts harvested from individual users on social media to form the Columbia Flood Archive.



The work identifies patterns found across lnstagram feeds on a macro level, while still connecting to individual posts. An interactive data map functions as a malleable digital sculpture, and informs a large physical one, where recycled water containers are hung in the shape of a cloud, raining down from which are fiber optic filaments."

– Bruce Lampros
Art Papers, May/June 2016

"Artist Jordan Young set out to portray the flood experience in sculptural, mathematical, and digital terms. In collaboration with fiber sculptor Susan Lenz and USC Professor of Mathematics Jerry Griggs, Young’s Flooded mines data and the flood archive to sculpturally chart how social media users documented their experiences of the flood. The piece is an attempt to show the hidden patterns underlying the collective experience of the flood. Viewers also will be able to navigate first-hand video accounts of the flood as an interactive element of the sculpture."

Seth Gadsden
Waterlines curator, Indie Grits co-director

 
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The Riverkeeper


bill stangler

The Riverkeeper


bill stangler

Video from Josh Yates' Oral History Project


On October 2nd, a low-pressure system stalled off of the Georgia coast.

That low-pressure system interacted with Hurricane Joaquin, located well offshore, and funneled tropical moisture into South Carolina.The intense rainfall, combined with the already saturated soil, led to the worst flooding the state has seen in recent memory.

On the night of October 3rd, people across the Midlands fell asleep to the sound of rain. Many awoke to alarms and sirens, others to water rushing into their homes.

Locations across the state set new rainfall records, with many places receiving more than ten inches of rain and some even more than twenty inches. Streams and rivers spilled out of their banks. Gill’s Creek peaked at 19.6 feet, a new record, while the Congaree River peaked at 31.81 feet, the highest level since 1936.

Hundreds of roads and bridges were damaged. There were widespread sewer spills, and several treatment plants were flooded. Residents of Columbia had to boil their water for over a week. More than 45 dams across the state failed. The Columbia Canal breached, putting the drinking water source for more than 180,000 people in jeopardy. 

The damage from the floods was widespread. Nineteen people lost their lives. More than 100,000 homes were damaged, and the total losses are estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

The power of water to decimate communities brings our need for statewide infrastructure reforms into stark relief. Not since Hurricane Hugo has a natural disaster impacted South Carolina with such brute force.

– Essay by Bill Stangler,
the Congaree Riverkeeper


 
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Daniel Machado


Installation, 10 days in 10 minutes

Daniel Machado


Installation, 10 days in 10 minutes

Drawing heavily on audio clips from the Waterlines archive, musician Daniel Machado created a new musical composition that scales down the timeline of the flood into a ten minute audio piece.

Within this structure, the piece explores textures and musical expressions that represent events that happened during the flood and the emotional state of the flood’s victims and bystanders. In an accompanying video projection, a SoundCloud timeline highlights key flood events as the composition unfolds.


 
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Dorian Warneck


street photography

Dorian Warneck


street photography


The flood also spread south to Charleston, a community that floods seemingly as often as the tide rises. The peninsula’s reaction to high water is a regular subject for Dorian Warneck, a street photographer in the city and maker of the Neighbors zine. Warneck’s contribution to Waterlines features a selection of photographs that focus on his city and its ability to live in and around the frequent flood waters.


 
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waterlines screening & performance


organized by Jason craig

waterlines screening & performance


organized by Jason craig


Collaborative Storytelling

Wanting to explore our theme’s potential influence on public health, USC Ph.D. student Jason Craig invited a group of artists, musicians, actors, activists, and community members to a series of weekend workshops. Laying bare their own experiences, the members of the workshop began exploring the possibilities that collective sharing presents to the health of a community.

The stories and relationships that emerged from those interactions formed the basis for a collaborative exhibition, a cooperative inquiry into self-care, both individual and communal. The resulting Waterlines Screening & Performance is an experimental, transmedia exhibition featuring storytelling, music, dance, song, poetry, film and more that presents viewers with a microcosm of the Waterlines experience.


 
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Jorge Intriago


National guard photography

Jorge Intriago


National guard photography


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Jorge Intriago, photojournalist for the S.C. National Guard and a photo student at USC, photographed the flood and the Guard’s response, as more than 4,000 members answered the call to help their communities. He took to the waters and the air to document the flood response from the first day of rain through the end of the recovery efforts. For Waterlines, photographs taken by Intriago and other public affairs guardsmen are on display at the Nickelodeon.


 
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Lauren Greenwald


public video installation

Lauren Greenwald


public video installation


Across from the Nickelodeon on Main Street, Lauren Greenwald’s piece Waterway combines archival footage from the last century and current videos to create an experiential depiction of our environment.

The piece explores not only the natural waterways in the region, but man-made paths and routes created for water and the destructive floodplains of the recent natural disaster. Projected on the facade of a building, Greenwald’s piece explores South Carolina’s waterways and landscape, how we move through them, and the ephemeral quality of those movements.

 
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Michael Dantzler


mapmaker and photographer

Michael Dantzler


mapmaker and photographer

Portrait photographer and gardener Michael Dantzler links plants and people in his project The Ark.

The piece consists of paired photographs–on one side, images of plants that help prevent erosion in floodplains, and on the other, portraits of people in the community that neighbors turned to for help during the flood–who, like those plants to the ground beneath them, help hold the community together. His piece explores the resiliency of both humans and plants to endure the strong force of water."



 
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Water Me


Michelle Skipper, Cecil Decker, Chris Johnson, Danny Oakes, and James Owens

Water Me


Michelle Skipper, Cecil Decker, Chris Johnson, Danny Oakes, and James Owens

 
 

"Water Me is a video game created to relay the experience of being stranded in your house while a flood has cut you off from the outside world.

Its players' objective is to keep an indoor plant alive (and in so doing, to survive the tedium of being trapped themselves). If you water the plant with tainted tap water, it will die. Each day you must water it; you can also listen to the radio and look out the window. Each game lasts a week, though players have the ability to fast forward time, or linger on an experience, as they experience the feeling of waiting for water to recede, and for life to resume."

– Bruce Lampros
Art Papers, May/June 2016



"When the flood hit, much of the city was inaccessible.

Dams burst, bridges failed and roads were impassible under pools of water. Pipes burst, tainting the drinking water supply. There was not much to do but wait for conditions to improve and resources to return to capacity.

In Water Me, a team of artists–Cecil Decker, Chris Johnson, Danny Oakes, James Owens and Michelle Skipper–recreate the experience of being shut in during the flood with a video game challenge. To win, the player must keep a plant alive–feeding the plant fresh water, not contaminated water from the tap. As days pass in the game, the player passes time watering the plant, listening to the radio and staring out the window."

–Seth Gadsden
Waterlines curator, Indie Grits co-director

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OK Keyes


multimedia site-specific installation

OK Keyes


multimedia site-specific installation

Once classes resumed following the flood, filmmaker and USC instructor OK Keyes took immediate action tasking cinematography students to create experimental short films about the flood and its impact inspired by the haiku poetry of Matsuo Bashō.

As they begin to rise again
Chrysanthemums faintly smell,
After the flooding rain.



Rather than finding dark clouds and still swollen waterways, however the students found beautiful skies in the weeks following the flood.

Merging the two–the darkness of the flood and the light that followed–is after the flooding rain, a multi-channel, interactive video installation created by Keyes’ students. Using projections of underwater footage, the piece creates the experience of being submerged. As viewers navigate the space, immersing themselves in the darker water, their movements trigger the brighter, more lyrical videos made after the flood. The abstract vignettes symbolize an attempt to interrupt the waters, just as the waters interrupted Columbia.


 
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Moving Image Research Collections


archival footage edited and curated by lydia pappas 

Moving Image Research Collections


archival footage edited and curated by lydia pappas 


Exclusively using archival footage, Lydia Pappas of USC Moving Image Research Collections created a film titled Film on the Water. Through the lens of MIRC’s varied collections and a plethora of footage covering waterways around the Midlands, Lydia is looking at the effect of humans on the water, as well as the water’s potential to enrich or devastate lives.

 
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Wade Sellers


multi-channel video installation

Wade Sellers


multi-channel video installation

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after the storm, filmmaker wade sellers found himself helping neighbors by doing what he does best.

Using the means of his local production company, he went to the homes of people affected by the flood to record video and photograph property loss and damages. The images would help the residents prove their losses in insurance claims.

Struck by the experience, Sellers later returned to the homeowners to interview them about the flood at the site of their loss. In Anatomy of a Flood, a three-way video installation, Sellers immerses the viewer in first hand testimonials interwoven with archival educational and news footage, and a new, narrative film of a scientist explaining the phases of the flood. To the viewer’s left and right, projected images of rising water recreate the immediacy of the flood experience so many shared.


 
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Steve Daniels


maggot

Steve Daniels


maggot


inspired almost entirely by the waterlines archive, steve daniels constructs a narrative by reconstituting found footage and family photos.

Set to an aural landscape inspired by pulpy, Old Time Radio horror tales, his film Maggot is a fictional story of a teenager who enters a strange, semi-submerged house in a flooded river, and discovers hundreds of photographs floating inside. After taking some of the photos, the boy soon goes missing.

 
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Josef Kristofoletti


public mural

Josef Kristofoletti


public mural

some waterlines artists were challenged to do work outdoors, activating public spaces in a way that would invite viewers to engage with our theme and encourage participation beyond the indie grits community.

This year’s Mural Artist-in-Residence Josef Kristofoletti invokes our aesthetic preoccupation with, and complicity in, our own gradual destruction, using a building on Taylor Street as his canvas.



The piece appropriates rainbow-like bands from chromatography–a process whereby the chemical components of a mixture are revealed through color in such a way that they recall ribbons of gasoline floating on water or the remnants of a chemical spill left on the sides of a building.

That waterline illustrates the devastating, contrary beauty of mass pollution and environmental degradation. Meanwhile, the mural’s title, Tokamak, identifies a reason for hope: the same-named fusion reactor that some believe offers a solution to our long-standing dependence on fossil fuels.

 
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Shannon Ivey


performance

Shannon Ivey


performance


Actor and educator Shannon Ivey moved back to Columbia in early November, choosing a duplex in Forest Acres, one block from an area decimated by the October flooding.

In her solo performance piece, Natural Disasters of the Human Kind, Ivey gets personal.

“I have a waterline. It’s on my body. It’s my C Section scar,” she writes in a description of her piece, which explores change, grief, resiliency, pregnancy and gender. The performance blends monologue, found sound recordings and movement playing on the metaphor of a waterline as a physical reminder of a personal flood.