Help me identify a spitting fountain.
September 21, 2007 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me identify a spitting fountain from my memory. The spitting fountain is NOT like the ones currently shown in Google or Flickr searches

The spitting fountain is NOT like the ones currently shown in Google or Flickr searches

The fountains I am thinking of are more like wells. There were several of them in a semi-darkened room. They looked like wells, about one meter tall, and about 1 1/2 meters in diameter.

Their action is what was intriguing. One well would spit a blob of water which arched high up into the air (2-3 meters) and went into another well. Then that well would spit into another, and so on...

I saw this in the 70's or 80's I believe. Can anyone tell me what these are?
posted by mbarryf to Technology (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You may have seen something like that at Disneyland, and there's one at the Detroit Airport too. The water looked like a worm leaping from well to well? Fountains like these are designed by WET Design - check out their portfolio page for photos.
posted by moonmilk at 6:30 AM on September 21, 2007

I've seen those things as well, but I've never heard them called "spitting fountains". Perhaps that's the problem? I don't know what they're actually called though...
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:31 AM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: Here's a video of the Disney fountain.
posted by moonmilk at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2007

I'm pretty sure I remember this too. It was more in the realm of kinetic sculpture than decorative fountain, and it probably was at a museum, and there may have been more than one. I've been to most of the museums in Chicago, New York, and Washington, and none of them specifically rings a bell here.

Basically, it was amazing then, fairly common technology today.
posted by dhartung at 6:58 AM on September 21, 2007

Sounds like the fountain (slash-water sculpture?) in the middle of the main concourse of the Detroit airport. Flickr set by laughing squid. It's hard to get pictures of, particular when it's shooting short arcs of water rather than continuous streams (which look like solid glass tubes), but it does sound a lot like what you're describing.

Anyhow, the DTW fountain is quite cool, one of the few bright spots of flying these days. On the other hand, DTW also has that scary scary tunnel with the often harsh and dissonant music accompanying sudden flashing lights -- kind of like the United people-mover tunnel in O'Hare, but on a bad acid trip.
posted by aught at 7:03 AM on September 21, 2007

The children's water park at Expo86 in Vancouver used the same mechanics of arcs of water that went from one well to the next. Unfortunately, the best picture I can find of it doesn't really show the water moving, but UFO H2O was the name of it. You might be able to google up more with more persistence.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on September 21, 2007

well, I thought I'd find an example on YouTube, and gave up in 10 minutes, but I did find this, which is just supercool.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 AM on September 21, 2007

Moonmilk's link called them 'leaping fountain' and googling leaping fountain came up with thousands of results, including this one with a cool picture and an explanation of how it works.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:45 AM on September 21, 2007

McCormick Place convention center in Chicago has some fountains like that.
posted by TedW at 8:50 AM on September 21, 2007

awesome thread guys! would love to see more examples!
posted by fishfucker at 9:47 AM on September 21, 2007

Best answer: There's a fountain like this at Epcot.
posted by jjg at 10:17 AM on September 21, 2007

There's the laminar-type fountain which gives those beautiful smooth arches like in TedW's photo above:

There's also the "pop jet" nozzle type, which can launch balls of water:

They're all probably spectacular under computer control.
These were invented by Robert L Kuykendal. (I swear I read a Wall Street Journal column about this ~15? years ago.)

Julius Popp has a nice falling-type fountain, with umpteen computer-controlled valves:
(I got to see it in real life some months ago in Montreal. Very cool.)

The original inventor of digitalized falling-type fountains seems to be "Steven Pevnik, a digital media professor in the art department at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee,"
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:29 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The ones at the Alton Towers theme park in England are described as 'jumping fountains', and here is a home movie of them in the 1980s.
posted by Lebannen at 10:41 AM on September 21, 2007

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