Like phone booths, water towers are a ubiquitous yet oft-ignored element of New York’s urban fabric, with around 10,000 tanks dispersed throughout the five boroughs and suspended out of sight and out of mind. The water tower has been a part of this landscape for over 100 years, surpassing the phone booth in its traversal of time and its sustained relevance to the city’s infrastructure. And just as Manhattan’s pay phones are being repurposed into miniature guerilla libraries, the dated network of water towers is likewise due for an experimental makeover. Enter the Water Tank Project. For three months in the spring of 2013, graphics by a diverse group of artists ranging from Ed Ruscha and Lawrence Weiner to Thom Yorke, Jay-Z and even local school students will adorn 300 of New York’s elevated water tanks.
The goal of the project, according to the Facebook page, is to use public art to “inspire millions of people to be more responsible with water in their daily lives,” which is admittedly hard to keep in mind with the advent of such things as Horizontal Showers. Dressed with blown-up pop imagery, these water tanks will emerge from the quotidian backdrop, reminding 8.4 million New Yorkers that the supply of the planet’s lifeblood is far from infinite. Simply gazing before these cylindrical containers is often enough to trigger such a crucial realization, and luckily, they will be highlighted by the creative visions of established and amateur artists alike.
There is currently an open call for design proposals. If you want to show off your artistic flair and add your two cents about water preservation, submit to the Water Tank Project.
[All images courtesy The Water Tank Project]