Wade in the water—Breaking the climate change inertia

by Echoes Labs

location: Charleston, USA

project type: bespoke mobile app

client: artist John Duckworth



Wade in the Water is an on-going exhibition focusing on portraying the interconnectedness between the environment and human impact. At the start there was a large-scale, site-specific art installation involving smartphone activated locative-audio art piece, housed in a 16,000sq/ft warehouse.

South Carolina based artist John Duckworth’s 2017 original installation Wade in the Water contained a projected slideshow of diptychs created to demonstrate visual parallels between the effects of climate change in downtown Charleston and Antarctica. One set of photographs come from Garrett Budds who accompanied polar explorer and environmentalist Sir Robert Swan on an expedition to Antarctica. The other set comes from Charleston-based photographer John Gaulden who has been documenting the impacts of sea-level rise in Charleston.

Working with 4-time Grammy-nominated jazz musician/producer Quentin Baxter and composer Lee Barbour, the empty space came alive with the sound of a gospel choir singing “Wade in the Water.” Visitors were able to ‘walk within and around the sounds,’ as if walking directly into the choir. A central diamond-shaped room with dual projections of glaciers and flooded Charleston streets provided an inner sanctum for contemplation and bearing witness. In an effort to spark conversation, visitors were then able to directly participate by ‘leaving their voice’ in the final section of the room, lending commentary and feedback to create an ever-evolving space representing the pulse of the community.

You are invited to leave thoughts and reflections on Johns website: in whatever means you desire, be it a story, song, poem, feeling, fear, statement, etc. Your contribution could be used in further presentations of the Wade in the Water, as part of an original smart-phone activated locative audio presentation.


Our role

Wade in the Water is powered by a unique and innovative app combining Echoes’ location-triggered content with advanced indoor location technology. John commissioned Echoes to fulfil a challenging brief for an interactive sound installation in a challenging indoor space. The point was – like with most Echoes apps – to allow the user to interact and immerse herself in the physical environment but not the screen. A lot of work went into not only the technology itself but to nail the user experience and app flow just right.

The app utilises cutting-edge indoor location technology to sense the listener’s exact position within the space and trigger sound ‘placed’ in that location. For the user, no extra equipment is needed apart from a standard smartphone. As listeners walk around the space, a gospel choir sings a piece in which each singer’s voice is placed at a specific position, and you can walk through the performance as it’s happening, with each singer getting louder or quieter as you approach their location. Another part features testimonials which you can ‘discover’ by standing in the right position.

For this project, we combined our existing location-based audio platform with a cutting-edge indoor location sensing technology to bring outdoor audio tours and experiences indoors.


‘We are so disconnected from nature that we have forgotten that we are nature. Once this relationship is personally acknowledged, people tend to perceive the world differently; we begin to practice life more harmoniously with the rest of the natural world.

‘We should be curious about our role in the larger ecosystem and our innate connection to it all. Our actions have consequences and we, as a species, have the unique ability to consider this and respond accordingly. The creativity and ingenuity of the human spirit are boundless, let’s surprise each other.’


John Duckworth │ Artist