Data collection started at the end of March 2004 and for the next few months we watched the numbers change, revealing a significant decrease in local moisture levels. Our site was drying out even as the DriWater nourished the newly introduced trees and plants. As the Spring took hold and the summer months approached, we watched the Mojave turn into what Andreas Suchantke calls the ‘Death Pole.’

Repeated visits to our site confirmed the intensified arid conditions. Plant material that was flourishing weeks ago was now dry and brittle. Our electronics could not aid this thirsty region. Weekly, we’ve retrieved data late at night, when our modem is set to turn on, and we’ve dreamed about an entire desert region expressed in terms of numbers. Days expressed as digits. Months expressed in a series of patterns.

Remote sensing technology has allowed us to collapse the space between our Los Angeles home and the MOISTURE physical site. We are now able to ‘look’ at distant changes taking place, but we must ‘look’ without the influence of temperature and the visual impact of the surrounding landscape. This type of visualizing is far different from the travel experience usually associated with our trips to the site. Remote collection of data calls for the interface of the eyes with the screen of the laptop. Gaps are filled in and incomplete conclusions are made. Did it rain? Why is the battery so low? How many hours of sunlight fell on the site? These are the questions we ask and the answers are not revealed in the limitations of the numbers.


Location-based physical observations operate on another level. Animal interventions are obvious upon an initial site inventory. Signs of packed soils show recent rainfall. Certain gardens seem to be thriving while others appear to be struggling. When physically present, one senses the slowing of time. Minutes and hours seem frozen, but a landscape of climatic events is visible and layered over the seemingly spartan terrain.

-- Claude Wiley
April, 2004

DriWater, Inc.
Rain Bird Corporation

Electronics used on the MOISTURE site: CR10X Measurement and Control System, MSX10 Solar Panel, Five CS616 Water Content Reflectometers, SC32B Optically Isolated Interface, SC932A 9 Pin-RS232-DCE Interface, AirLink Communications Redwing CDMA Modem, IMB Think Pad running Loggernet program from Campbell Scientific.

DATA IMAGE ONE: shows the data from the 5 sensors positioned within the MOISTURE site. The numbers on the left represent the ratio of .08cc of water per cc of soil, and the bottom numbers show the dates during which this data was collected. All data is collected once an hour between the hours of 6:00pm and 12:00am. The long-range plan is to collect data for one entire year. May and June are the driest months of the year in the Mojave, and this plot shows the MOISTURE site steadily drying out. The data is collected remotely using a Redwing CDMA modem and the Loggernet program for Windows. (The five sensors are positioned in the 4 of the 7 gardens, and the remaining sensor is positioned directly behind the gabion diversion structure.)

DATA IMAGE TWO & THREE: show the voltage status of the battery supplying power to the onsite modem and logger.
Ranging just above 13.2 volts and dipping just under 12.6 volts, the plot shows the fluctuations in solar energy during the day and evening segments of time. The modem is only on between 6:00pm and 12:00am, but the logger draws from the battery 24 hours a day. The intent is to collect solar energy data over the course of one year.

All of these plots were designed by Damian Martinez.


[ Moisture 2 introduction ]
[ Site map ]
[ Blog / Updates ]
[ Context texts ]
[ Initial phases ]
[ Construction ]

Site Projects:
[ The Gardens ]
[ Water Catchment System ]
[ Driwater ]
[ Telementry + Electronincs ]
[ Yearning Bush 2 ]

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Sensors and Telecommunications Used in Connection with the MOISTURE Mojave Site

As we started to conceptualize the second phase of the MOISTURE project, one thing that repeatedly came up during our discussions was the need to monitor our physical site using some kind of electronic transmission system. Looking into broadband video technology, we realized that such a path was not cost effective or even suitable for the scope of the program being developed. After obtaining a grant from the Beall Center for Art and Technology, we discarded the desire to provide further qualitative data, that we could easily record with our eyes during periodic site visits, and instead opted for the collection of quantitative data, or data that could provide information about our physical site beyond what our limited optics could provide.

After consultation from Don Brown of Campbell Scientific, we made the decision to utilize water-content reflectometers, in conjunction with a CR10X datalogger, as a means to collect daily information on how moisture was accumulating and/or evaporating from the main physical site. Moving forward with the plan to ‘monitor’ the site for an entire year, we purchased the needed gear. In addition to the datalogger and the five CS616 reflectometer sensors, we purchased an MSX10 solar panel and a CDMA Redwing modem to meet our power and transmission needs. After a few months of testing, and endless assistance from Don of CS and folks at AirLink, we installed the gear at our site.