“Because it’s hidden, because you can’t see it. You tend to forget that it’s there.” – Alison Gilmour

This video reveals some hidden stories behind the water industry. It is divided into three parts – the history of Industrial Revolution and cholera behind the dirty water, the Victorian sewer and unhealthy labour under high-pressure environment during the water industry construction, and big data and network behind current water industry. I do hope that the audience would realized that there are lots of hardwork and reasons behind some seemingly common things.

  • Research

After listening the oral history recording “Tunnelling & Victiorian Sewers”, I learned some history about sewer construction details, as well as try to find the hidden and forgotten facts behind the water industry. Then I researched the situation by reading several articles related to the water industry and looking for some pictures of historical sewers. From the history to the current period, I found the reason why the sewer was constructed and what was happened inside it. For instance, pollution during the Industrial Revolution and the sudden outbreak of cholera led to a sharp decline in water quality in London. However, during the construction, the health of workers and the working environment cannot be guaranteed, but people do not know these facts when they drink tap water. Looking at the present, there are countless big data and networks behind water resources.

London Sewers and Cholera Virus

  • Process

In this video, I try to reveal these facts and the audience will understand these things through the acoustic and visual environment. Firstly, I used three different kinds of water to stand for the dirty water, sewage and pure tap water. Then I tried to display the reason why people need to start to build water industry. For the construction period, I restored the egg-brick structure of Victorian Sewer and used a large number of human heads and collisions of human heads to express how difficult it was to build sewers. I selected several words in oral history recording, such as ‘hard-working guys, high-pressure environment, etc.’. At the same time, I recorded some sound from sewers and downloaded some audio effects on https://freesound.org/, and then mixed them to let audience immerse in this video. As for the current time, so many people cannot understand why we need to spend a lot of money on using water. I tried to use a short abstract animation to explain the hidden network and data behind the water industry. All of these need to cost a huge amount of money, time and labour.

Video Screenshot

  • Sound Resource

Oral History Recording – Geoff Aitkenhead interviewed by Alison Gilmour, 2011, An Oral History of the Water Industry, C1364/18 © British Library
Online Sound Resource – https://freesound.org/
Own Recording – Water Sound and Sewer Sound

  • Reading Reference

2009/2010 National Life Stories Annual Review, pages 14-15
Mary Gayman, “A Glimpse into London’s Early Sewers,” Cleaner Magazine, © 1996, COLE Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission from Pumper and Cleaner.

That’s Not What I Said’: Interpretative Conflict in Oral Narrative Research.” In Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History
All about cholera, The Sunday News

Software – Houdini, Cinema 4D, Final Cut Pro

Feb. 2020 – Mar. 2020

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