undertoe is the experience of walking on water, and seeing yourself from beneath the surface. It is an enveloping space with a glass ceiling under a pool of water where your footsteps create illuminated waves, blanketing you with patterns of warmth and coldness, dark and light, and the sound of water from above.
The inviting chamber of undertoe, which can encompass up to twenty people, has hardwood floors and light-colored walls. Its glass ceiling is also the bottom of a large tank of water softly lit from above and outfitted with wave generators. These generators transfer vibrations of visitors' footsteps on the floor of the chamber into the water, where they are seen in the form of waves. Light passing through the rippling water illuminates bands of warmth and cold on the space's walls and floor. undertoe re-presents the invisible currents of vibration we unwittingly produce. The waves interfere with one another to form complex waveforms and disperse through space and dissipate over time.
undertoe explores novel concepts of memory by placing the resonant properties of its various materials into counterpoint. What we produce but cannot detect is sensed by the piece and transduced into water - a medium with the capacity to remember on a scale of time more in tune with that of human perception. Where as our vibrations dissipate quickly through wood, they travel far more slowly across the surface of the water. In a fantasy-like environment, these patterns are then imparted into our consciousness, transmitted into our minds, and compelled into our memories. undertoe is an experiment in material memory, human perception, and the realm of the intangible.
We are currently searching for a venue in which to house a full scale implementation of the design. More information can be found at undertoe.org, and nathanielstern.com Artist's conception image by Tana Green.