Ecotopian Library
Edward Morris and Susannah Sayler                                       
Water, Gold, Soil, 2015                                                         
Single Channel Video, 17 minutes
Water Gold Soil: The American River tells the story of a single flow of water in present-day California from origin to end-use. Beginning at the river's headwaters in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the book follows the water through pipes and dams, past Sutter's Mill and the birthplace of the Gold Rush, to the corporate agricultural fields until it eventually disappears into the ground, finding veins in the soil. It begins as the South Fork of the American River and flows into the Sacramento after being dammed multiple times. It spills into the Delta only to be extracted by pumps and pushed towards the Central Valley for the benefit of large-scale agriculture. This is the flow of water in which gold was first discovered in California and the project explores how the violent and colonial beginnings of the state of California continue to haunt it. Nearly all rivers in the state are dammed. The water is owned and apportioned as soon as it comes out of the ground. This river, therefore, is part of a system of water management. All water in this system is rendered as a commodity - what   Heidegger called  "standing reserve," albeit a reserve in increasingly short supply due to climate change and real estate development. The project consists of an ongoing assembly of original photographic and video works, archival images, writing, maps and other media.