Be Water (2020) is an interactive installation that creates fluid-like movements in a flexible screen that is pulled by a motor. The installation uses a digital camera and machine learning to track the faces of its visitors to then predict their heart rate by monitoring changes in the skin colour. The frequency and patterns that the screen is pulled with is a combination of the heart rates detected, thus, the fluid movements visualise the combined heartbeats of the installation visitors.
“Be water” is also a phrase popularised by Hong Kong martial artist and film star Bruce Lee. In his own words “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
This philosophy has been adopted by Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, where they adapt their protests to an ever-changing and increasingly repressive context.