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Meredith Carruthers & Susannah Wesley
Watching Water, 2009

Title: Watching Water

Artist: Meredith Carruthers & Susannah Wesley

Medium: Photography; Inkjet Print

Date: 2009

Image Size: 50" x 8"

Edition: 100

Price: $250

About The Work

Watching Water: Views of Niagara Falls, Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley's contribution to AbC's WATER anthology, is an homage to the 19th-century artist Godfrey Frankenstein's epic Niagara Falls panorama.

Watching Water, 2009

The sublime majesty of Niagara Falls has inspired artists and poets for hundreds of years, from the first documented encounters to the present. Visitors have responded to the force and power of the falls with feats of daring, endurance, heroism, and even magic. Fictional, rumored, or real, these acts have shaped the perception of Niagara in our cultural imagination.

In the 1840s and '50s the German-born artist Godfrey Frankenstein (1820–1873) painted Niagara Falls over and over, from a hundred angles, under all seasonal conditions. His work verged on obsession. In nine years of observation, sketching, and painting, he produced more than two hundred studies, and his finished work, Frankenstein's Panorama, consisted of approximately one hundred works on canvas. These were mounted in sequence on a display mechanism, which unfurled to provide viewers with a procession of images of the roaring water. The panorama stood 2.4 meters high, and the canvas rolls of paintings were over 300 meters long; it must have been an impressive sight for the visitors who gathered in large numbers to see it in New York City in 1853. Frankenstein kept his audiences' attention with lively narration and music as the images moved seamlessly through a large picture frame on the stage. After crowded performances in New York, Frankenstein's Panorama toured other American cities to great acclaim. According to press notices of the time, the project was received as a wonder in its own right. Unfortunately, very few traces of Frankenstein's panorama have survived, and the paintings themselves seem to be lost completely. The experience and impact of Frankenstein's Panorama must be left to our imagination.

In the spirit of Frankenstein, we created a new panorama of Niagara Falls, a collage of recent images gleaned from photo-sharing websites. Many of the twenty million annual visitors to the falls, out of a desire to remember and share their experience of the thundering cascade, have documented the encounter in photographs, then uploaded the pictures to sites such as Flickr and Facebook. The resulting collective online archive rivals Frankenstein's obsessive waterfall survey, and ranges from snapshot portraits to carefully composed images of the falls sparkling with ice, illuminated by night in rainbow hues, or alive with birds. These photos form a stunning tribute to the enduring enchantment and power of Niagara Falls.

Section Titles and Image Credits

Fresh Green SPRING!
American Bridal Falls. funfuncheese, April 9, 2007
Niagara Falls in spring. Moustache-man, April 12, 2007
American Falls from the Maid of the Mist. Niagara Falls. NewYork. USA, May 2005
The Horror, May 23, 2005
Horseshoe Falls. jchalmer, May 26, 2008
Horseshoe Falls, Canada – A combination of three pictures of the Horseshoe Falls shrouded in mist. jchalmer, May 29, 2008

In the heat of SUMMER!
Niagara Falls – American Falls. Wil Zoetekouw, summer of 2003
Photograph by Yangyongwei. August 2, 2005
Niagara Falls. hokorii, August 2, 2007
Niagara Falls – Canada. Difo&Natura, August 6, 2008
Horseshoe Falls (Canada). Wolfgang Staudt, August 10, 2006
Niagara Falls (American Falls). digitaleye81, August 19, 2007
The Falls. Dreamer, August 24, 2006

In the Gorgeous Beauty of AUTUMN!
My favorite photo! Autumn approaches. Xtradot, September 8, 2007
06-kan-329. Herrwick, September 27, 2006
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, Niagara Falls. bridgepix, September 30, 2003
Both sides of Niagara Falls. Josiah Norton 4, October 13, 2008
DSF_9496. Crobart, November 2, 2008

And in the Dazzling Splendor of WINTER!
Horsehoe Falls, by night, in winter, Niagara Falls. elPadawan, January 5, 2008
Niagara Falls winter. AndyPdLA, February 11, 2006
Magnificant (Niagara Falls). flipkeat, February 16, 2008
Left Edge – Niagara Falls. flipkeat, February 16, 2008
Niagara Falls. wstubbs2, March 14, 2006

Niagara at night. Jeremy Cliff, August 5, 2007
Fireworks at Niagara Falls. Skootie, July 20, 2007
Niagara Falls at night, from the Canadian side, illuminated by colored spotlights. Booknero, December 3, 2005
A view of Niagara Falls at night from Canadian side. shahz4, December 26, 2007
American Falls at Niagara. jj8rock, March 17, 2008

About the Print

These editions, supervised by the artist, are printed with archival pigment inks on a matte Fine Art paper. The ink and paper combination have a display permanence rating of 150+ years. All our prints are made with the greatest attention to quality and a concern for permanence.

About the Artists

Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley

Leisure Projects is an artist-curator collaborative practice begun in 2004, which explores popular imaginaries of leisure through curated exhibitions, performed events or published texts. Leisure Projects is the delirious brainchild of artist/curators Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley.