In this throwback interview from 2018, artist Moses Hacmon talks about the true nature of water.
Close-Up Culture would like to congratulate Moses and Trisha Paytas on the birth of their first child, Malibu Barbie.
Can you tell us about your background? When did your interest in water start and how it grow?
My first interest in life was nature and art. I grew up wandering around in nature, searching for meaning and purpose, always thinking about the big picture. At the same time, I had the ability to draw and sculpt which is how I expressed my thoughts and ideas. Consequently, I kept to myself and didn’t share my thoughts with those around me.
My interest in nature and art brought me to study architecture, which was a combination of the two. Architecture deals with designing how people live and thinking about how environments affect people while also being measured as a sculptural art form. Is man the product of his environment or is the environment the product of man?
While studying architecture I researched plants as if they were architecture. I wondered whether nature is a built environment and if it is, then who is the architect and who is the dweller? The answer to these questions was clear to me – it is water. Water shapes our world, our environment, and our future. It is water that dwells in our bodies and in every body that is made out of single cells.
So, the architecture of nature led me to water. That was the time I first started looking at water as the missing agent in our evolution. Water was the perfect candidate to fit the role of the life force in nature, the architect I was looking for.
Water is not just architecture and design, it is not just random mutations of DNA, and it is not a purposeless force of life that our current theories would have us believe. Water is a natural living being that has preferences and what we would see as desires. Even if we use water just as a symbol for the soul, water gives us an opportunity to put something so abstract as the soul into words. Nature’s Water Cycle represents the cycle of the soul. An invisible spirit that cycles through nature and is the dweller in all organic structures. While we know that there is no life without water, now we start to see that there is no water without life. The two are one.
Can you describe the process and techniques you use to capture water in motion?
I personally experienced a shift in thinking I know what water is and that I can see it, to understanding that not only do we not know what water is, we can’t even see it.
Water is illusive when it comes to our perception of it. It has been with us from day one on this planet, since we began to understand ourselves and the environment around us. Water is a medium in which we reside and just like air, once we are immersed in water, water becomes invisible to our eyes and air becomes visible as we watch the breath leave our bodies as air bubbles.
We can only see the border between water and air but we cannot see the movement and complexity of form within water itself. So we assume that we can see water when we cannot and we also assume that water does not have a shape or form. Water takes the form of the vessel it is in, be it a glass or a valley or a lake.
In relationship to space, water will always be a sphere, it will take the form of a sphere when given a chance on the right scale, for example: Earth is a perfect sphere of water around an imperfect rock. Within water itself, just like in the air, there are winds and currents, there are movements which our eyes cannot see. These movements in water are the first movements of life.
My goal was to capture images of water moving in water since I knew that it would be the only place where I could see the true faces of water. For that task, I created a liquid film that could be placed inside of the water, yet not mix with it. And that could allow water to imprint its movement onto the film. It’s a form of kinetic photography. I call this technique Faces of Water, and sure enough every form of life we know and every face we have ever seen exists in water, just water moving in water. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the blueprint of life itself.
Once I get the patent for my method, I will happily share it with the world since it is a magical moment when you see the forms of water moving in every dimension in front of your very eyes.
The first time I saw your work, the water formed what looked like a beetle to me and I was pleased to read on your website that you describe the images as “Nature’s Rorschach blots.” Why do you feel it creates such an effect and what does that say about the nature of water – or our connection with water?
In water, we can find the blueprint for life, since water is the architect and dweller in nature. All forms of life are used by water and for water. Our nature is made up of the movement of fluids, flows of particles. We are liquid dynamics, from a river to a highway to our bloodstream, water has – and still is – shaping the world around us. When we see images in Faces of Water, we see an alien world we have never seen before, yet it is so familiar at the same time. Like a near death experience, being in an unfamiliar place we call home.
With this method of photography, what we are faced with is a character, it’s a movement in nature which has taken a form and realised itself in the material world. The many different movements are driven by an infinite amount of characters. A character’s strongest expression is within its face and now we can see that the face is a symbol of the intention hidden deep in the water. We can see how different intentions and different characters shape different creatures, like the differences between a dolphin and a shark. One can know how to interact with either of them based on their form and movement, whether it is a friend or an enemy, whether it is here to play or fight.
We wonder about our connection to water as if we were different elements that are influencing each other, I do not see it that way. I only see one thing: I am water. Instead of seeking a better connection to nature, I see this as more of an issue of identity. I know that I’m not a rock, sand or iron. I know that I am not dead wood, plastic or diamonds. I know that my spirit cycles endlessly through nature. No other element cycles actively through nature the way people and water do.
Your work also instantly reminded of Patricio Guzman’s excellent 2015 documentary, ‘Pearl Button’. If you haven’t seen it, the film in part deals with the Alacalufe and Yaghan tribes’ history and connection with water. In what ways do you feel our identities are bound up in water and why is it important that we recognize that?
Today we live in an environment that is detached from the sources of our food and water. I could eat chicken or beef not knowing if that animal was tortured, sick, sad and or unhealthy. All the hamburgers and hot dogs in the package look the same. The same thing is happening now with the water we drink. Just like hot dogs, all plastic bottles look the same. And we cannot see with our naked eye the quality and health of the water we drink. On top of that, we forget how the ocean, rivers and lakes are connected with the food we eat and the water we drink. As we trash the ocean, we do not realise that, not only are we trashing our food sources, but we are actually trashing our soul.
In order to change our behaviour, we need better understanding of our relationship to our environment. Since the beginning of time we have been telling many different stories about the origin of life yet all stories share a common theme, that water is the origin of life, that water always existed and was not created by the gods. Water is always an active agent in nature and all stories describe life starting in the ocean and walking out onto the land. Even after we evolved out of the ocean and became land creatures, water is still the space in which new life is conceived.
The spirit, the soul has a cycle; that cycle is based on nature’s Water Cycle – where you have one ocean of ancestors and unborn babies, and from that ocean, we have the ability to fragment into individual beings such as plants, animals, and people. Each one of these water containers has an individual point of view and behaviour. When that container falls apart, the water breaks and flows back to the ocean, back to the cycle of life.
Plastic pollution in our oceans is a big talking point at the moment. What is your outlook on this pollution and do you feel combating it can be a path to restoring our relationship to water and nature?
Everything we do and create originated on this earth is from this earth. How is it that we move one element from point a to point b and suddenly we are faced with disaster? We are constantly in this state of discovery and self-realisation. Just like a person in a dark cave with a flashlight, we will use that flashlight to shine around us and discover the environment which we are trying to navigate in. We shine the light outward; we do not point the light at ourselves. When we are in an unfamiliar environment, we are trying to understand what is around us and what laws govern that space. Now that we have charted the entire periodic table of elements, it feels that we finally have the time and knowledge to begin the search into self-realisation and self-reflection.
Once we understand that the ocean is where our ancestors and unborn babies reside, then we will understand that we are trashing our past and future, in that moment we might understand what is actually important in our interactions with water. This is why it is important to understand water as the spirit. Now we have an opportunity to find truth for the first time. Water is constantly building plants, animals and people – building architecture to escape the cold salty ocean. We can see how water is constantly moving out of the ocean into structures that have thermal controls and many different filters.
Through deep analysis of plants and animals, we can learn the many different preferences that water has. We can find real evidence of planning and the intention of water in the architecture of nature around us. We need to operate with an open mind and creativity and continue our natural evolution away from pollution. Nature constantly recycles itself and regenerates on its own. We will keep doing what nature does best, we will create ways to recycle and reuse all the waste we create. This is an issue of education of understanding what nature is and understanding nature’s systems and cycles. We are now creating new systems and new cycles which we must perfect to the same levels of efficiency we see around us. We will mimic the systems around us and create fully biodegradable technologies.
I saw a video clip of an interpretative dance show accompany your work. What are the ways we can explore water and connect with it in our everyday lives?
Many people ask me about my personal connection to water, usually expecting to find that I surf or dive, but water is more complex than that, and our relationship to water starts with our own body first. Personally, music and dance are the two experiences that move me the most. I feel that dancing and singing is an expression that originates within our soul. It is hard to explain why water likes movement and music until you start dancing with no reason and no meaning, just improvising and moving to the music.
Music only exists in the world of water, there could be no soundwave without a medium of water like our atmosphere and ocean, all sound waves flow through water.
A good way to connect with water in our everyday life starts with dance, music and moves on to the kind of water we drink and bathe in. The quality of the water we interact with is really important since we can see big differences between freshwater and manufactured water in plastic bottles.
We also need to think about the water that resides in our food and in our bodies. We think of food leftovers and even our dead as lifeless objects, while in reality they are still living. Water never dies, it is only the architecture that fails and breaks down. When we seal our dead and leftovers in plastic bags and coffins they are tortured and rot for too long because they are isolated from their natural cycle. And when that water finds its way back to the cycle of life, it retains and brings back all the memories of that torture. For that reason, it’s important to understand that every vessel of water is a vessel of consciousness and they all must compost naturally and quickly in the ground.
Am I right in believing you have opened a Water Museum for your work?
Knowledge, like water, is useless when there is no access to it. So in order to counteract this, we created Channel Water – a Youtube Channel that publishes free information and resources to learn about water. Channel Water is a family friendly channel that has been growing consistently since its birth in November 2016.
Since this is an educational project, I felt that it’s important to have a physical space in which to host classes for all ages. This year I have purchased the building that will be renovated into The Water Museum.
The museum is not just for my work with water, it is a place where all the different discoveries recently made about water will be displayed. The subjects will range from science and physics to mythology and theology. From dance and music to sustainability and regeneration. We will also cross section all that we know about water today with our mythologies and theologies, emphasising the common idea they all share – water is life. It is important to create education about water which will help change our behavior towards all vessels of water be it plant, animal or person and the actual bodies of water – rivers, lakes and oceans – all should be treated with dignity and strive to be healthy.
Please read our full proposal at lawatermuseum.com