The Navitas



Navitas is a sculptural apparatus that uses the creative, interactive process as a vehicle to move 
participants from present realizations to future modes of empowerment around the issues of clean, safe and healthy drinking water production by Hamilton Water. The sculpture focuses on the treatment, 
testing, and distribution of drinking water. Latin for energy, Navitas will be constructed from primarily reclaimed, repurposed materials consisting of aluminum, copper, and wood components. 

Below is the proposal and description of the required interactive functionality of the Navitas. There will be two primary physical modes of interaction: a teeter-totter hand pump and a belt driven hand crank.

2 Person Hand Pump
Working like a teeter-totter, the hand pump requires two people to work co-operatively in order to pump the ‘water’ from Lake Ontario, through the treatment plant, and then distribute it to all the homes connected within the 2000 km of piping maintained by the city. 

Represented by 2000 blue LED lights (1 for each km) mounted inside copper piping, ‘water’ will need to be pumped from the lake into the treatment plant and then out to the community. Participant’s will be invited to try and pump drinking water to their homes or the homes of their neighbours and friends. Each person pumping will have a small LCD screen demonstrating the treatment & distribution process.

LCD Display Screens

The two LCD display screens will be designed to simply and effectively 
illustrate the processes and methods of treatment that are in place to create safe drinking water. As the participants pump, the tanks in the screen will fill and the water will move through the process and then head out for distribution to the city and outlying areas.

Analogue PSI Gauge

An analogue gauge will also be mounted within the sculpture representing the 
pressurization of the system and pointing to the history of Hamilton Water’s record on providing safe drinking water. This gauge will be primarily visible to the audience watching who will need to share and discuss with the participants (those pumping) the readings of the gauge and their ability to maintain the required PSI for the system.

The Hand Crank Power Generator

A hand cranked 400 watt generators with a power inverter and battery will be constructed to power the the sculpture in any location. With the capacity to power 120 volt appliances, these hand generators will be used to power the LEDs, the processors, and the three LCD display screens. With proper cranking, the sculpture could remain operational almost indefinitely with no electricity required.

The Navitas, as a tool for public engagement, will draw people to the issues around water conservation and tap water through eye catching aesthetics, required physical interaction, and facilitated dialogue. 


Art Crawl, James N., Hamilton

First I want to thank John F. from Hamilton Water for hosting the Navitas at the Art Crawl last night, he was in top form and the crowd not only had fun, but learned a lot about Hamilton water. The interactive sculpture was an excellent draw with a steady stream of fresh participants all evening. Below is a short video and a few pics.


The Build

(not in chronological order)

The main frame of the sculpture is fabricated out of aluminum which originally started out as some type of elevated work platform that I found at a metal scrap yard.

It has been cut, reworked, extended and re-welded. The aluminum gave the frame great strength, as the piece is portable, but kept the weight down for easier maneuverability. I also choose the aluminum for how it worked in relation to all the copper that has been installed. Its cool industrial feel works in opposition to the warmer DIY feel of the wood house and support piece as well.

Once the frame was complete, including all the required access points for the copper tubing, wiring, pumping mechanisms, and power supply, Tim and I sandblasted it and then I coated it with shellac. Once dry, I rubbed back the shellac in certain areas. The frame is meant to take the brunt and abuse that will come through touring. The scars left on the frame signify its history, the story it has to tell, and the communities it has travelled to.


Time Lapse

It's always fun to watch a time-lapse especially when the 30 seconds that it takes represents months of work. This short video illustrates the installation of the almost 100' of copper tubing as it is laid into the aluminum frame. Each copper piece has been cnc'd with perfectly spaced holes that align with the strips of LED lights and lens that we installed inside the copper. This process took a several tries to get right, but the final results are worth it.


Working with multiple micro processors and almost 2000 LED's will be a new approach. Success in this area comes because of Tim Mills of Timthetech and his amazing programming skills. Not only is he excellent at problem solving, his attention to detail and quality are top notch.
And I don't say nice things often.

The Navitas will include some new technology.

So Blue!
3 primary colours - thousands of options
Blackboard says: 1 led for each km = 100' of copper

Navitas is a sculptural apparatus that uses the creative, interactive process as a vehicle to move participants from present realizations to future modes of empowerment. Latin for energy, Navitas will be constructed from primarily reclaimed, repurposed materials consisting of stainless steel, copper, powder coated components. Oh, right, and some LED's.

Here a short video of the sculpture complete along with all the programming. Almost 2000 LED's and three LCD display screens all linked to a two person teeter totter style pumping mechanism.


I held a small preview event for public testing purposes on a food pick up day at Manorun organic farm. People who approached the piece and inquired were given the opportunity to give it a try. Everything worked fantastic and we had some lengthy discussion on water, are where people water came from. The amount of effort to actually complete the cycle really seemed to challenge people. I believe it was not the real amount of pumping strength required to operate the sculpture, but more the initial perception and belief that as an interactive art piece, it would be simple to operate.


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