Watershed, a New MSLK Eco-Installation

Here at MSLK we are keenly interested in the effects of society’s mass consumption of plastic. It seems that the things that are most transient to us such as disposable bags, silverware, applicators, packaging and bottles are made from plastic, a material that is very enduring. What happens when we are done with these single use items? Where do they end up? And more importantly how many of these things are we mindlessly using every day?


In 2008, we created the eco-art installation 2663 Urban Tumbleweeds to help the public visualize the effects of this mindless consumption. The end result was a 1/2 mile long chain featuring 2663 plastic shopping bags, a number equal to 1 second of US consumption.

Our latest installation, Watershed, features 1500 disposable water bottles and again highlights only 1 second of US consumption. Mixed throughout both installations are signs with facts about the dangers of this rate of consumption and what the public can do to make a change.

In the last 20 years, water has exploded as a new a commodity that companies feel should be bought and sold to us in plastic containers. The negative effects of this are widely documented, from the additional energy consumed to produce and truck bottled water, to the shift in priorities bottled water companies have on distributing water to poverty-stricken countries versus establishing public water systems, to the toxins plastic emits into bottled water and into our environment overall.

It seems to us that if there is one area we can quickly and succinctly eliminate the need for additional plastic waste, it is in our consumption of plastic water bottles. There once was time when water was not bought or sold but rather consumed straight from the tap and we need to evolve back to this simpler, more efficient method.

Hence the title, Watershed.

wa·ter·shed (wô’tər-shěd’, wŏt’ər-) n. A critical point that marks a division or a change of course; a turning point: “a watershed in modern American history, a time that … forever changed American social attitudes” (Robert Reinhold).


Watershed’s flexible format allows it to be displayed in a variety of locations. It debuted outdoors in a large tree at the FIGMENT art festival on Governors Island in NYC in June 2009.

On September 21, 2009 it will flank the stage for the global premier of the film “The Age of Stupid,” which is sponsored by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Moveon.org, Friends of the Earth, and will receive a key note address by Kofi Annan.

Then on September 25-27th it will be re purposed again on the loading dock at 20 Jay Street, for the D.U.M.B.O Art Under the Bridge Festival.

At each and every event, Watershed will offer a water bottle refilling station featuring NYC tap water, and challenge  participants to shed the feeling that they need to purchase water in plastic bottles when we have the best quality drinking water in the world coming out of our taps!