The Chaotic, Harmonious Slipstream: Water as an Art Installation

Slipstream Installation

Image source: Archinect

Water is fluid. That’s stating the obvious, right? Sure, water is a substance that’s in a fluid state (as opposed to a gas or solid), but what I mean by “fluid” is that it changes readily. Much of the beauty of water stems from its countless, ever-changing forms. Water drips, pools, ripples, waves, surges, boils, rolls, streams, slides, falls, beads, vanishes, and envelopes.

So, how can artists even begin to capture the beauty of water? If the allure of water comes from the fact that it is constantly changing, how can a static, unmoving art piece such as a sculpture or a painting even begin to embody a fluid substance?

Slipstream Art Piece

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Architects from the LA- and New York-based firm FreelandBuck have attempted to tackle this seemingly impossible task by creating a motionless sculpture that embodies the turmoil of chaotic waves. Behold Slipstream, an art installation that is at once beautiful and frightening, calming and chaotic.

The art piece was interpreted from two-dimensional drawings and then extracted into the three-dimensional world. What’s so incredible about the piece is that the 1,800 pieces of plywood that make up the installation are not held together by binders. Each piece was cut and precisely arranged so that each piece supports every other piece around it.

Moving Water Art Piece

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Despite the expert precision and careful planning, the result is something like visual chaos. It’s not just the interweaving of blues and teals that capture the essence of water – the very shape embodies the fluid wave. The mass of fragmented lines and directionless waves pull the eye everywhere and nowhere. Without any sort of center point or discernible pattern to grab onto, the viewer gets lost in the mayhem.

Ironically, the art piece somehow manages to provoke feelings of peace throughout all of the chaos. The sharp, angular edges almost makes the installation seem dangerous, but at the same time it produces a sort of soothing. It genuinely does feel like we’re looking at a pool of water.

Slipstream Close Up

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Unfortunately, this art piece is no longer on display. It was removed the BridgeGallery in New York earlier this week so that the architects could put it up for auction. This artistic beauty fetched a mere $200 on eBay. That might seem like a fairly low number, but that’s probably because shipping alone cost the buyer a hefty $1,200.


One thought on “The Chaotic, Harmonious Slipstream: Water as an Art Installation

  1. pam

    “Sure, water is a substance that’s in a fluid state (as opposed to a gas or solid)…”

    I don’t mean to nitpick but a fluid is liquid or gas.

    This should say, “Sure, water is a substance that’s in a fluid state, like a gas (as opposed to a solid)…”


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