Long before American marketing experts developed the incredible idea that information may have something to do with a highway, that the movement of data could be equated to the dawdling of four-wheeled automobiles on jammed surburban highways and talk of an >information highway< slipped into politicianís speech, computer scientists began using terms that clothed the movement of information in metaphors. They spoke of the flow of information, of streams of data and floodgates. Flow charts represented program logic as water wave logistics, and sources and sinks clothed in words what the imagination knew about the movement of streams through the landscape. The metaphorical environment of early computer science was obviously built near rivers and lakes and understood data forms of movement as flowing. Unlike the dull highway formula, the water metaphor connoted the information processes with moments of flowing, turned its view away from singular objects and towards a complex of interdependent units that, in a stream, were more than many tiny cars on a long, grey street. One may see the linguistic aspect of a science as a marginal detail, but there must be room for speculation on how systems are shown wrapped in various forms of representation. When todays users stop and restart the stream of data by clicking on a little stoplight that turns from red to green (software phone tools) or meet little traffic signs in the web held up by street workers, they are paradigmaticallly in a universe in which the street, the laws of the street, the highway code, the traffic jams, and the passing lane stake out the dispositive horizon of every action. How different would a representative net of aquatic concepts be? How would an information and commmunication world of divers, steam, drops of water, springs, estuaries, and great floods be?
It is the merit of the arts to present the ruling industrial metaphorical terminology better images, to speak better languages and imagine better worlds. Andrea Zapp and Paul Sermon construct a water world in A Body of Water in which volatility and fluidity of communication are carried and changed by water. The users of the installation show their other interacting partner - who is located at another site - his or her outlines as images on walls of fog that change in a constant flow. The water removes the ideological appearance of longevity and constancy from the images which are exchanged between both sites live via ISDN. It washes the image clean, one could say, and must then immediately continue with a heraclitic conclusion: One can never view the same image twice. (Just as one can never set foot in the same river twice.) Presence and history are in the current of constant change. The authenticity of the interactor and the historical relevance of the images recalled in the mind are flowing, or rather information that has flown away. We can let this information flow on, divert it dam or disperse it, but we can never freeze it: information flows!