The Watershed Project: Testing the Installation

Mark Isaac

Part of what makes Atlantika different as a collective is transparency. As our inaugural blog post made clear, “We’ll offer a more public view of our creative process than is typical, to provide some insights into our methods for shepherding work from idea to completion.”

That’s not always so easy to do. It offers a peek behind the curtain to moments of uncertainty, chaotic experimentation, and even outright failure. It risks having the veneer of a poised, highly skilled, confident artist stripped away and replaced with something a lot more fallible and human.

So in the interests of taking this goal seriously, here’s a rare glimpse behind the scenes to the very first test of the collaborative installation I’m creating with Gabriela Bulisova. In this video -- that somehow managed to become partially corrupted, adding to its charm -- you’ll see us testing our first concept of the installation using, what else? A baby pool, a mirror purchased at Target, and droppers left over from Trader Joe’s liquid stevia drops! If that doesn’t lead to great art, I don’t know what will!

If you come out to the opening at Boyden Gallery of St. Mary’s College of MD on October 21st, you can gauge whether we managed something a little more polished and sophisticated…and better yet, see how the early test informed the final vision.

Importantly, the final work calls attention to the way in which the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed, comprised of 150 major rivers and streams, is interconnected. And as an interactive installation, it offers you a way to personally participate and demonstrate that anything that happens to part of the watershed has ripple effects throughout the entire ecosystem.

We’re hoping it’s a lot of fun to play with the water. But we’re also hoping the installation will convey that the Watershed, which supports innumerable life forms, including 17 million humans, is severely threatened and now relies on us for essential interventions that will restore and preserve its vibrancy for the future.


Life Support, an interactive installation by Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac, includes an IV bag, drip pan, beakers, droppers, projectors, water from the Chesapeake Watershed, and sound. It is on view at Boyden Gallery from October 18 to November 22.