No Lifeguard on Duty is sited at a unique location on Waller Creek where an aging weir allows the creek’s water to pool and where steps along the creek’s edge invite visitors to dip their feet in the cool water. The installation is a response to the site and the broader culture of Austin’s swimming hole culture and long history with neon-based art.
A neon installation celebrates Austin's unique swimming hole culture.
The annual Creek Show is intended to activate Waller Creek to help the city of Austin reconsider it as part of the public realm. When we re-negotiate our relationship with the landscape, we can better appreciate the role it serves in our lives.
Imagination is a radical act in the urban realm. Waller Creek occupies a different place in the imagination of Austinites than many other more accessible waterways. While it has served as a floodway for the city, it is important to reconsider how a community interacts with and considers this watershed as it is re-integrated into public space.
After opening the show, this installation immediately became interactive. People were jumping on the pool floats, touching the water, and claiming the space as their own.
Waller Creek is currently undergoing a multi-phase redesign to preserve the creek and reintegrate it into public spaces along its watershed through the city of Austin. The Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, The City of Austin, and other local stakeholders are engaging the downtown community to re-envision how Waller Creek fits into the public realm as they revitalize the greenway. The annual Creek Show is part of that effort to activate the waterway. Austin has a deeply in-grained swimming hole culture that has helped many other naturally-fed bodies of water define the identity of the city, but different considerations need to be made for waterways like Waller Creek that will not support that sort of engagement.
Asakura Robinson was 1 out of 6 teams chosen from a pool of almost 50 applicants to help renegotiate the public relationship with the waterway. The installation, entitled No Lifeguard on Duty, was developed as a response to a particular site along the creek below the 8th Street bridge, but its form was ultimately inspired by significant cultural elements found elsewhere in Austin as well as a desire to create an immersive and highly interactive project. Waller Creek is an urban waterway that has its own complex identity, a composite place influenced by both downtown and the larger watershed. No Lifeguard on Duty proposes a pool club for a waterway that will never have one. Here you can relax by the pool serenaded by the lights and sounds of the Red River cultural district. You can mingle with other pool-goers, or you can party till the sun comes up. But just remember, there’s no lifeguard on duty.