Concept by Stef Veldhuis
Webdesign by Jelle Reith

“This water, enriched by so many reflections and so many shadows, is heavy water.” -Gaston Bachelard

Heavy Waters (a.k.a. The Musselorgan) is a sound installation consisting of sixteen organ pipes that react to the gape width and heartbeat of a single mussel living in the urban underwater ecosystem of Durban, South-Africa. The distance between the lower and upper shell of this bivalve determines the harmony of the instrument, whilst the heartbeat provides a continuous rhythmic push and pull.

Created in collaboration with the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) and the Dutch Embassy of South Africa, Heavy Waters offers new practices of listening in order to gain a deeper understanding of the mussel as a vital part of the oceans’ ecosystem. Scientist Katja Phillipart sees the mussel as a canary in a coal mine because they can detect potentially dangerous water pollution faster than most man-made instruments. Thus, tuning in to the animal’s behavior unveils a clear panorama of the state of its surroundings.

Through the intricate process of transposing the behaviors of this more-than-human entity into a realm comprehensible to our human sensibilities, Heavy Waters aspires to foster notions of care that transcends species boundaries.

Heavy Waters is a site-specific adaptation of the Waddenorgel, presented during the #cocreateMyCity conference on urban water challenges in Durban, South-Africa.

Heavy Waters is created by:

Stef Veldhuis – Artist
Jelle Reith – Technician

The installation has been made possible with the help of:

Craig Smith – Marine Biologist
Dr. Katja Phillipart – Marine Biologist
Fiona MacKay – Marine Biologist
Jessica Glendinning – Policy Officer Culture and Media
Mette Veldhuis - Woodworker
Stinkens Orgelpijpmakers