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Uisce Salach (Dirty Water). Photo: Robert Corrigan.
Uisce Salach (Dirty Water). Photo: Robert Corrigan.

Uisce Salach (Dirty Water) is a new collaborative sound art project about contested water issues in Ireland. Softday, the art-science collaboration of artist Sean Taylor and computer scientist Mikael Fernström, are initiating a collaborative art process leading to the creation of a significant citizen’s art-science project based on water analyses from domestic water supplies from the River Liffey, its tributaries in Dublin City and from Dublin Port. The key aim of the project is to enable citizens living and working along the River Liffey to participate in scientific research with creative outcomes. Working with those residents, schools, community organisations, fishing clubs along the river and workers in Dublin Port, the project will synergise science and arts practice using water sampling and creative technology, developing new thinking and new meaning around the sustainability of water resources.

Using established methodologies, Softday will issue water test kits to participating citizen scientist to gather small water samples, (which can be from their own kitchen tap, well, local River Liffey tributary, or whichever source of clean water that matters to them) on World Water Day, Friday 22nd March 2019. Softday will analyse all samples and use the data to construct a map with the underlying data sets, as well as producing a unique sound composition as part of a major multi-media installation, which can be played by humans and computers and shared via the web and social media. The world premier of Uisce Salach (Dirty Water) will be performed live by the Irish Chamber Orchestra in combination with the “Softday Citizen Scientist Ensemble”, a form of public laptop orchestra, in Dublin in November 2019.

Uisce Salach (Dirty Water) will increase awareness of the environmental, economic and social value of water. This project will be facilitated by Dublin Port’s Port Perspectives Engagement and Education Programme to access networks of community organisations around the port as well as port workers and supported by CREATE to reach community and interest groups such as fishermen along the River Liffey. Uisce Salach (Dirty Water) is suported by an Arts Council Arts Participation Project Award 2019.

For twenty years Softday has engaged with issues relating to climate change and its global effects. As an award winning collaborative team they use their arts practice to explore relations to and understandings of nature, expressed through sonifications, multimedia artworks and public performances, such as Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees, 2013-15) and Sounds of the Unthinkable (2018). Softday use various media and creative genres to create art works that speak of the urgent need for social action.

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