80+1: WIA < > WIA (Water in Africa < > Water in Austria)

This project was part of Ars Electronica’s ambitious 80+1 project. It formed part of the Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture Year, and was sponsored by Voestalpina and Linz 09.

Details about the 80+1 project
80+1 website

Artist: Melissa Fatoumata Touré [Mali]
Tech: Zoumana Habib Tounkara, Djelimady Samaké, Ballaké Touré, Sibiri Touré, Soumano Dieneba Touré [Mali]
Topic: Water
Location: Koulouninko, Mali
URL: website

Even if life is very different in Europe, there is the one issue that makes the very different in Africa and Europe: water. Our installation will compare the usage of water in Koulouninko (Mali) with the usage of water in Linz. There is one public well with the hand pump in Koulouninko (outside the capital city, Bamako) where we have attached a sensor that counts the amount of water the people pump. The data is then sent via Internet to Austria. Then, at a public toilet in Linz, the amount of water able to be flushed is determined by the amount of water that people in Koulouninko drink. If people in Linz want to flush more water than is used in Mali, then people in Austria have to pay for it. Their money is donated to an African well-drilling project.

Though the Wia Wia project was quickly revealed to be a fiction staged by anonymous artists, we find that it nevertheless does an outstanding job addressing several key aspects of 80+1 and have therefore decided to go ahead with it as proposed.

The project concept, even if it doesn’t actually take place, gets across to visitors in Linz in a very direct and effective way the reality of the global water crisis that will be severely exacerbated in the near future.
The visual staging of the project in the form of a collage of graphic material gathered online also dovetails nicely with an essential part of the 80+1 project’s mission—namely, implementing and reflecting the effectiveness of purely virtual relational and informational networks.

Moreover, the entire proceeds of the project will benefit a water project that’s active in the real world, and very successfully for that matter, though it, in turn, uses the internet as its main communications platform.

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