“Water Music,” by John Seabrook in the January 11, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, tells the story of Mark Fuller — “the closest thing the world has to a fountain genius” — and the background of the new fountain he designed at Lincoln Center. Mr. Fuller runs a company called Water Entertainment Technologies (WET), credited with bringing ”a new language to fountain architecture.”
To me, the story is an elegant depiction of the straight line a person’s life can take when it is informed by a single idea. Simply put, Mr. Fuller always loved channeling water.
In Mr. Fuller’s childhood, according to Mr. Seabrook, “when the snow began to melt, water would rush down the sloped streets, and Mark would make elaborate networks of snow dikes, sluices and spillways for the water to flow through.” As a young teen-ager, he visited the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, which inspired a backyard project “complete with lagoons and underwater tunnels, using an old washing-machine motor to propel the water through the system.” And when in college studying engineering, he saw a film on “laminar flow, a well-known principle in hydraulics” and “for his senior honors thesis … decided to build a laminar-flow fountain” — his course was set.
In hindsight, the straight line of an idea such as Mr. Fuller’s is very clear. It all seems so simple. Almost fore-ordained. But we shouldn’t discount the courage it takes to recognize, adopt, develop and adhere to an idea that is so strong it sustains a person throughout his life.