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Living Water Flowforms
Unit 4 /3 Fern Place
Phone: 61 2 6685 5417








Flowforms..."Art in Service of Nature..."

Mark Regner


Water - The Vehicle of Life

In a mountain stream, nature provides a complex bed through which water flows. As gravity pulls it in, around, and over rocks, sand and vegetation, water constantly creates within itself patterns and vortices the action of which creates winding river beds. Water in its natural state does not travel in straight lines, it loves to meander and spread itself out.

When water moves too fast, as it does in a “straightened” river, or when it is forced out of its natural meander patterns, as in hydroelectric dams or in water pipes, or when it is polluted, it loses its vortex patterns, and some would say, its vitality.

Flowforms seek to emulate this vital pattern of water.

Flowforms originated in the 1960s from the work of Theodore Schwenk, George Adams and John Wilkes. Wilkes saw that the secret of water’s vitality lay in its rhythmical movement.  The fact that all living things depend on water, implied for him that regenerative processes are continually at work within it, otherwise it would be unable to maintain its function as a life sustaining element.

As Schwenk had observed, rhythmical motions are evident in many water phenomena: rising and falling tides, the repeated crashing of waves on a beach, the alternating left and right curves of a river’s meanders, even the Earth’s hydrological cycle. But the orderly form exists only fleetingly, and then quickly dissolves. Apparently, water can manifest its potential of creating orderly forms within itself only momentarily, and then returns to the state the poet Novalis called “sensitive chaos”, the name Schwenk chose for his book on fluid movement.

Would it be possible, Wilkes wondered, to design a sequence of forms through which water could fulfill its capacity to manifest orderly metamorphic process, to create artistically what he calls an “organ of metamorphosis” for water?  Such a sequence of forms, he argued, might bring to physical expression the delicate potential for ordered movement that appears to be inherent in the nature of water.

Thus the Flowform came into being, after much experimentation and painstaking modifications – the water lemniscate was born – i.e. the movement of water in a figure of 8 rhythm that has been the basis of this amazing revitalising effect on water. Creating flowforms is akin to making musical instruments.

Flowforms are cascades of water that aid in the reoxygenation of water to restore it to as close as possible to its mountain stream state. They work as a sort of living lung, aiding the aerobic micro-organisms to break down the “unwanted matter” in the water, e.g. grey water or sewage. The action of the water is to fold oxygen into itself. According to Wilkes, the Flowforms are preferable to spray systems used in other standing pond sewage systems. “We are always technologically trying to force things. When you force oxygen or air under pressure through the water, it will mainly try to bubble out again, and about 5% may really dissolve. And besides,” Wilkes explains, “when using pressurized sprays, you may run the danger of mutilating organisms.” He summarizes this way: “The question is, can we learn ways of bringing water into a situation where it will draw oxygen in its own right, as it does in a mountain stream?”

But Flowform advocates are insistent about a second benefit….  They say that the rhythms of water, enhanced by Flowform proportion and shape, create an environment which supports the rhythmical processes in which micro-organisms are always involved. As Wilkes explains: 

“When you look at these organisms through a microscope, you see that they are pulsing and spinning and moving spirally in their environment…” 

The rhythms created in the water by the Flowforms are intended to relate to these micro-movements.

We need to take care of water as if our lives depended on it – which it certainly does, and not just treat it as just a carrier for removing our wastes. We have all come to realise that pure fresh water is a precious commodity, and we are already buying sanitized, but “lifeless” water in the supermarket, as we know that what comes out of the tap at home is indeed inferior to what we find in a mountain stream.

Flowforms can be used for many purposes – as many as the uses of water – such as for revitalising drinking water, in dams, for stirring BioDynamic preparations, sewage and grey water treatment, dairy and piggery effluent, nurseries, ponds in zoos for aquatic birds and wildlife, aquaculture, swimming pools, in office buildings to revitalise and enhance the environment, air conditioning plants, and of course, for parks and gardens for our enjoyment.  Children love to spend countless hours playing in the running water connecting to nature.

Water is in us all – it is the life blood of the Earth.  It is up to us all to make sure we treat it with the utmost care.


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