Flow – a project with Johnny Lu


Flow monitors restroom water use for conservation while transmuting its effluvia into an aesthetic experience.

Sensors attached to xbee radios in the restroom detect toilet flushes and allow for us to monitor water usage throughout the day. These are sent over an internet connection to our database from which we can collect data, do analysis and present visualizations online. The acts of water usage are also relayed to a networked water display feature (fountain) which translates the acts into an aesthetic experience.

Artists’ Statement:

Interest in data collection, conservation, and an interest in bringing to light and discussing some of the things we take for granted, or do not usually talk about, such as the water it takes to run our sewage system, filtration systems, and we are looking for insight into issues surrounding water usage. By representing toilet water usage as an aesthetic experience, we want to create an element of surprise and hopefully discomfort at appreciating something less expected, maybe even inappropriate, as a way of addressing this use of water.

We are interested in showing the data clearly, but having the water feature be a pleasant presence and a surprising discovery when one realizes what it is representing. The fountain will turn on with flushes, and during busy hours on the floor, we hypothesize, will be on consistently. It is in the moments when it turns on or off that the discovery is most likely. Our audience is therefore anybody on the floor who is curious about the water feature and its unexpected behavior.