Working with Water

The work of this conference is based on the research by Theodor Schwenk, whose work is documented in the book Sensitive Chaos. It was lauded by Jacques Cousteau as the first phenomenological treatise on water since Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of water flow.

British sculptor John Wilkes, along with Schwenk, held the research question, “What if we give back to water some of its own archetypal movements in order to rehabilitate it?”

On the suggestion of mathematician George Adams, research was done in the 1960s with water flow over path curve surfaces. However, the rhythmic Flowform movement arose by serendipity while John was researching symmetry and asymmetry in flow channels at the Institute for Flow Science, headed by Schwenk. Along with colleagues John went on to develop the many designs which are available today and which have been used in biodynamic agriculture, in landscape work and to support life processes.

There are still many questions in understanding the enhancement of water's life bearing capacities through movement: mixing, agitating, etc: it touches all applications of fluidity. One of the most fascinating realms is the mixing of homeopathic remedies. These questions can be explored in discussions and conversations during the conference. The work initiated by John Wilkes is carried out by Simon Charter with Ebb and Flow Ltd in the UK and by many colleagues worldwide in the International Flowform Association and the Foundation for Water.

In 1965 Jennifer Greene was inspired by Schwenk’s themes from the classic book SensitiveChaos. In the 1980s she invited John Wilkes to the United States where the Flowform work was inaugurated. Jennifer was later fully trained in Switzerland and Germany in Schwenk’s Drop Picture Method which describes micromovements in water flow that relate to water quality.

Years of water phenomena experiments and studies have been born out of this work. Schwenk’s work forms the basis of Flowforms, metamorphic thinking, and deepening phenomenology.  In this conference, we will learn to think, to observe, and to read forms of water movement. This leads to a deeper understanding of the nature of fluidity and a look at the classical applications of these insights.

This conference is for educators, environmentalists, designers, artists, and those who love and care for water in nature. We will be doing collaborative flow experiments, modeling meanders, and exploring how water creates form in flow. Schwenk suggested that through this activity we can develop our thinking to be more suited to understanding living processes and organisms. In the last two days, we will focus on shaping forms for rhythmic flow both individually and collectively. Participants will have the opportunity to create their own Flowform design in clay if desired.