Beneath The Falls

The Short of It


Year: 2016

Beneath the Falls is a three channel video installation which is based on the future shutdown of the American Falls at Niagara Falls, NY.

The Longer Explanation

The installation is meant to reveal how the falls themselves are like a time capsule to whatever gets washed away in their rapids. Back the 1960s, one of the falls was turned off, leaving a barren cliff. The drainage revealed several deposits of coins, junk, and even human remains, which brings up the question: what could be discovered beneath the falls this time around? Considering the rapid advancement in technology and culture since the 60s, it is assumed that deposits of cell phones and cameras will be uncovered. Due to the fact that an event similar to the upcoming shutdown has only occurred once before in the falls history, Beneath the Falls is designed to illustrate the spectacle of the event as well as the underlying history of the falls through the items that have fallen in over several decades.

The installation is designed to to draw the spectators toward one side of the room as a way to make a spectacle out of one of the falls. This effect is accomplished through the use of three separate video channels projected onto a wall which represent the Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls respectively. Upon entering the room, the spectator will experience the installation on a 2-minute loop in which one of the three channels transitions between a running waterfall and a barren cliff-side. The shift in this channel is meant to signify the shutting down of the American Falls. As spectators are drawn toward the sounds of construction, the American Falls channel begins to play a composition of different sounds and visuals such as coins sloshing, phones ringing, and watches ticking. These sounds create a taxonomy of the history and experiences of the people visiting Niagara Falls. The layers of these different tracks are artifacts of decades of international tourism and create a visual soundscape which functions similar to how an archaeologist may discover fossils at a geologic site in order to learn about the past of the specific geographic location.

After a period of time, the familiar sight of the waterfall returns to the American Falls channel, thus covering up the artifacts beneath the Falls until the clip loops and repeats the process again. Overall, the installation is meant to create a spectacle for the spectator. This spectacle would most likely entice people to investigate the event further. Some may instead decide to stay close to the familiar sensations of the two running falls in an attempt to retain a more natural experience, free of the outside influences of the spectacle. Either way, Beneath the Falls is meant to simulate the experience of a falls shutdown through the use of video and audio in order to shed light on the hidden history of this international wonder.