Words for water: Stage 1 ISMAR2013 and MARart

This blog post is about my forthcoming work at the Transreal Topologies exhibition, which will be held in conjunction with the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) Symposium in Adelaide. At this exhibition, I will be presenting stage one of a new project titled Words for Water.

Image still from "Words for Water" video

Image still from “Words for Water” video

Words for Water is a project that explores the life giving properties of water and its relationship to  humanity and the environment. The process for developing the content has involved using online social networks to gather the word for water in many languages, over 30 to date, including 8 Indigenous Australian languages.

A number of future works are currently in development, which will further build on the collaborative aspect of this project. Here is a link to a short video that is part of stage one and the Transreal Topologies exhibition.

The below text is an excerpt from my ISMAR proposal.

Proposal – Words for water
MARart4: Transreal Topologies @ISMAR2013, Adelaide, South Australia

IMAGE SOURCE: "Chemistry and Life", 4th Edition, John W. Hill, Dorothy M. Feigl, and Stuart J. Baum, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1993

IMAGE SOURCE: “Chemistry and Life”, 4th Edition, John W. Hill, Dorothy M. Feigl, and Stuart J. Baum,
Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1993

Words for water is an exploration into the many aspects of the chemical of H2O. Water makes up over 70 per cent of the human body, it is essential for sustaining life and has massive social and cultural significance.

Water may seem ubiquitous, but it has some rather uncommon properties. At the atomic level, water can influence how life and landscapes form, such as how water moves through a plant and how rivers meander around bends. It is also the only chemical that be formed in three states – vapour, liquid and solid.

This project will use augmented media tools to evoke a meditative work focusing on the concept of water.

By using a visual ‘trigger’ audiences will be able to use their mobile phones and hand held devices to access the work. The work is designed to be totally transportable and ‘fluid’, allowing people to access the work from both physical and virtual spaces.

The process for developing the content has involved using online social networks to gather the word for water in many languages. To date I have gathered over 30 languages, including 8 Indigenous Australian languages.

This project seeks to raise awareness of the significance of water to humanity – its critical importance to our existence: spirituality, culture, health and ecological sustainability.

The work will combine video and audio components to create an evocative and provocative work about the impacts of human development in relation to the topographic elements of the map. By focusing on the universal human need for ‘water’, reference can be made to the impact of development on waterways, estuarine environments and the surrounding terrestrial landscapes. Strong references are made to the Murray River, which is the life blood of many Aboriginal nations and a resource that has been historically badly managed in terms of the agricultural production methods and changes to the hydrology.

In this first stage of Words for Water, the Murray river is explored as a body, and is traversed from the source in the Kosciuszko National Park alpine region of New South Wales to the mouth in South Australia.

Along this journey the water travels through many nations, and each of these Aboriginal nations have dreaming stories and deep knowledge of the river. It is with respect that this work does not attempt to interpret these stories, as that belongs to the cultural custodians. Rather, I acknowledge we have much to learn from the stories and knowledge of the peoples who have survived in this land for over 50, 000 years …  And we need to learn now.

The source material for this work comes from a range of sites identified along the Murray and these sites are connected to aspects of the body through the use of colour to relate to chakras (see below aura images).

The use of chakras to represent elements of the body is to focus on how we need to find balance for the river, to enable it to be healthy, so we as humans are healthy.

This river and its journey is also connected to my daily life as it is the water that sustains me. I am very fortunate, as every day I drink the beautiful, clean, mountain water from tributaries of the Murray and Murrumbigee Rivers close to the source; as I live in the Alpine region where the river is born.  While I am very grateful, I am very mindful that the river is not so healthy when you come to the other end at the Coorong.

The Auras

The following images are the ‘triggers’ for the ISMAR exhibition.

River's source

River’s source

River's bend

River’s bend





Once mighty river

Once mighty river



Mouth of the river

Mouth of the river

Words from around the world
Here is the list of words collected so far for this project:

  1. Gapu : Yolgnu
  2. Kapi : Pitjanjatjara
  3. Gugu : Wubuy
  4. Air : Bahasa Indonesian
  5. Wair : Bahasa Sikka
  6. Wada : Myla
  7. Voda: Russian
  8. Sui : Cantonese
  9. Pani : Hindu
  10. Water : English
  11. Aqua : Latin
  12. Eau : French
  13. Ma : Arabic
  14. Agua : Spanish/Portuguese
  15. Nepo : Greek
  16. Wasser : German
  17. Wai : Maori
  18. Galin : Wiradjuri
  19. Wala : Yorta Yorta
  20. Su : Turkish
  21. Tubig : Filipino
  22. Vann : Norwegian
  23. Uisce : Irish Gaelic
  24. Dwr : Welsh
  25. Ilma : Maltese
  26. Vand : Danish
  27. Vatten : Swedish
  28. Banyu : Javanese
  29. Vesi : Estonian
  30. Auga : Galician
  31. Ouse : Old English
  32. Av : Kurdish

Here is a link I found with lots of words for water FREELANG – WATER in all languages



H2O – The Mystery, Art, and Science of Water, The Chemistry of Water
Professor Jill Granger, http://witcombe.sbc.edu/water/chemistrystructure.html (accessed 10 June 2013)

Earth Chakras http://earthchakras.org/Locations.php (accessed 15 September 2013)

Exploring the Chakra System of the Nile with famed Egyptologist Ahmed Fayed http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/nov2/fayed.htm (accessed 15 September 2013)

Shakti, Kundalini, and the River of Tantra Yoga by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati http://www.swamij.com/shakti.htm (accessed 15 September 2013)

The Yogic Flower Chakras, Nadis & Lokas http://www.theyogicflower.com.au/chakras.htm (accessed 15 September 2013)