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Giant Cube Will Travel The Neuse River And Connect With Communities Along The Way

The River Cube will marry art and science in its 275-mile journey down the Neuse River. The cube itself is made of found aerial footage of an unknown river system, and while it goes on its journey down the river, a team alongside it will collect scientific data, including photographs and water samples.

The team traveling with the cube will also stop at communities along the Neuse to talk to people about their beliefs, experiences and memories with the river.

Host Frank Stasio talks to creators Christina Lorena Weisner and Matt Keene about the project. Weisner is a sculptor and an assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the College of the Albemarle. Keene is the CEO and founder of The Silwood Group, LLC, a team that brings together expertise in evaluation, complexity and sustainability working to create a better future.

The River Cube Project will be on display at North Carolina State University’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design in Raleigh on Thursday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with an artist talk featuring Weisner and Keene at 6 p.m. The two will also be at the ticketed Art Dissected event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh on Friday, May 10.

Interview Highlights

Weisner on the physical aspects of the River Cube:

It's a five-by-five-by-five-foot cube and strapped across it is this film. And so the only way to see film is when you hold it on to a light box. And so in essence, I've created a giant light box that will get floated and towed down 275 miles of the Neuse River. But it has this really beautiful blue iridescent glow to it. And I'm interested as a sculptor in the physical quality of the film that will be changed over time. So currently all the images are still there. But as we expose it to the light and being outside to the elements, that former imagery will be erased and overwritten by the actual Neuse River and the scratches in the water and the use of towing this thing down the river.

Keene on what the team will be collecting as they travel the Neuse River:

We'll be collecting both objective data, like things like water temperature, air temperature and weather data. We're even going to be carrying with us a sensor that some scientists [and] psychologists from the Smithsonian Institution have given us that will detect tagged animals — in particular bull sharks and cownose rays. And we'll be providing that data back to those scientists. That would be an example of the citizen science that we're doing, We’ll be taking systematic approaches to gathering information about people's responses to questions that reveal what they think a river is.

Weisner on the Create for the Cube campaign:

We are asking folks to get involved by creating for the cube. And so that could be a drawing, it could be a painting, it could be a dance, it could be a song, it could be some sort of citizen science that somebody is doing. Maybe they've tested the water in their home for the last 10 years and they want to contribute that information. So we are open to any information that people want to submit to us and they would do so through Instagram with #createforthecube.


Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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