Wellograph – Drawing machine that raises awareness on water crisis

Created by TehranPlatform team, Wellograph is a temporary installation exhibited in 8th Tehran Annual Digital Art Exhibition, part as an installation and part as a performance. It uses a mobile drawing machine to turn layers of data into 120*120 cm drawings through a durational performance. Concentrating on environmental issues, the set of data chosen to be represented was the number and location of wells around disappearing lakes of Iran.

Water crisis in Iran has multiple aspects. The wasteful use of water in the past 40 years and over one million legal and illegal wells being dug have worsened the crisis. This process has led to the drying of Iran’s lakes and other water resources. Excessive groundwater withdrawal from Iran’s aquifers is one of the main factors of the drying of “Parishan” and “Bakhtegan” lakes. According to statistics published by the Ministry of Energy of Iran, the number of wells that are dug in the drainage basin of “Urmia” is more than eighty eight thousand; in the “Gavkhuni” drainage basin, this number exceeds fifty thousand, in “Maharlou” thirty five thousand, and in “Helleh” twelve thousand.

Wellograph” is a tool to represent the number and the geographical location of the wells that are dug in each drainage basin of Iran’s drying lakes.

“It’s all about the duality of terrific yet terrifying. Sometimes our actions, as terrific as they seem, could convey a hidden terrifying layer of destruction. Although our modern world has built a monumental structure of achievement through advances in science and technology, the natural systems that provide the foundation for this structure are eroding under the pressure of nonsustainable human demands and behaviors. It is generally assumed that the human organisms seek to further its existence, yet our social and political decisions, as beneficial as they seem, are leading our society to a gradual suicide. There seems to be a paradox between decisions due to human survival and the consequences of these decisions which lead to its self-destruction in long term.”

Representing deceptive aspects of these types of decisions, while shedding a light on their hidden consequences is at the heart of what Wellograph does to raise awareness and inspire actions regarding these terrific-terrifying dualities. Wellograph is a medium to tell stories; a story to build a movement and bring others along.

Wellograph is one of the projects defined in TehranPlatform‘s new field of concentration called “Scripting Awareness”. We’re trying to start “making the message”, the center of our attention and our approach is to design technological tools in an effort to raise awareness about critical issues facing our society.

The drawing machine uses a customized PCB based on Atmega328 and motor controllers to run three DC motors, each attached to an omni-directional wheel.

Pose Estimation system is based on finding correspondences between points in the real environment and their 2d image projection by use of ArUco Markers. The 13◊13 cm2 ArUco Marker is placed on top of the robot which can be detected by a PS3 eye camera placed above the painting canvas. Tracking ArUco marker and estimating its 6DOF pose was implemented using ROS. Position information is then relayed to the robot to make it move on the canvas. As the machine reaches its destination, a servo motor pounds the marker on canvas, leaving a black dot which in this case represents a water well.