Urban Aquifer: Vehicles to Think With
Springs featured in the Springs Eternal Project travel far beyond the walls of a museum, streaming through the virtual space of the Internet as well as the concrete highways and byways of Gainesville. Windows onto the aquifer, the springs make visible our essential connections to water and to each other.
Urban Aquifer: Vehicles to Think With, created by Springs Eternal Project Co-Director Lesley Gamble, is a performance artwork, concrete poem, mobile educator and ongoing public service event that “daylights” the aquifer beneath our feet. Wrapped in luminous full-scale springs images created by local artists Margaret Ross Tolbert, John Moran, Tom Morris and Mark Long, Regional Transit System buses flow throughout our urban conduits as a metaphoric aquifer, the lifeblood of our region.
Each bus depicts one of our Florida springs, described by William Bartram as “the blue ether of another world”—surprising, dramatic, radiant. While the aesthetic appeal of this moving artwork implies poetry, actual phrases culled from historical and literary references float suspended across the aqueous imagery.
One bus conveys “hidden in the prisms of cerulean light,” a fragment of poetry penned by Tolbert, while another cites Jacques Cousteau’s description of Ginnie Springs’ astonishing clarity in 1974: “visibility forever.”
Together, the circulating buses create chance grammars, spurring observational games and a sense of playful delight. Phrases, like people, meet, pass, and continue on to their various destinations, small poems springing up in unlikely places.
The health and beauty of our springs depend on everyone’s water habits and land use practices, even if we live some distance from an actual spring. The Floridan aquifer that feeds our unique and precious springs is not an infinite resource but a finite ecosystem. Like RTS, it’s a dynamic system of transportation, storage and routing highly sensitive to loads and cyclic changes. Both require sustained public support and investment, wise management, a long-term view, and a healthy balance of inflow and outflow to function optimally.
QR matrix barcodes printed on each bus link viewers directly to the SpringsEternalProject.org website, which offers a wealth of information and resources on springs. Here, you can explore springs history, culture, science, art and public policy. Access the stories, experience and wisdom of a diverse group of people, from biologists, hydrogeologists and environmental scientists to cave divers, artists, business owners and advocates– all people who know and love their springs. You’ll discover why these springs are worth protecting and the actions we can take, individually and collectively, to restore our springs and aquifer to clear, vibrant and sustainable health. Please see our TAKE ACTION page to learn what you can do right now.
Urban Aquifer meets people where they live in the course of their daily lives, reaching out in particular to those who may never have visited a museum or a spring. Visually compelling, it offers an effective means to capture people’s attention, provoke questions and delight, and provide access to more comprehensive information about our springs.
Whether you are riding a bus or just happen to see a “bowl of liquid light” glide by, you can enjoy the aesthetic, satisfy your curiosity about its origin, and learn more about the waters that nourish and sustain us.
Dr. Gamble teaches art history at the University of Florida. Her Art, Water and Ecology course focuses on our local springs as an important case study for researching relationships between art, science and public policy.
Partnership and Outreach:
The Rural Aquifer
Urban Aquifer has a new relation! The Rural Aquifer bus was created in collaboration with Tracy Wyman’s aquiPROJECT and children enrolled in the White Springs H.O.P.E. Program.
To find out what the kids have to say, click here: http://springseternalproject.org/rural-aquifer/
We love Tracy Wyman’s aquiPROJECT. Here’s a pdf of her poster for the summer 2013 collaboration with the White Springs H.O.P.E. Program and Lesley Gamble’s Urban Aquifer: aquiPROJECT_HOPE_Poster 2013_LO RES
The students were involved with every step of the transformation.
Many thanks to our Urban Aquifer Sponsors!
For information about sponsoring an Urban Aquifer bus, please contact us.