Words for Water

Words for water explores a diversity of languages, including Indigenous Australian languages as a starting point to evoke a connection to water as the sustaining element of all life. Indigenous cultures have an acute understanding and connection to the relationship between body, environment (site) and identity and this project seeks to awaken this connection more broadly across cultures and practices.


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 are formed, 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 uses a range of mixed reality media approaches  – the use of augmented media to ‘trigger’ sound and video, the development of a smart phone/tablet app, gallery and installation based exhibitions and a projection work that bring together this project in a filmic, linear narrative.


On 2 June 2013 a call was made to my networks on Facebook to share with me what their word for water was: these are the responses so far.

Words for water

Gapu: Yolgnu, Kapi: Pitjanjatjara, Gugu: Wubuy, Air: Bahasa Indonesian, Wair: Bahasa Sikka, Wada: Myla, Voda: Russian, Sui: Cantonese, Pani: Hindu, Water: English, Aqua: Latin, Eau: French, Ma: Arabic, Agua: Spanish/Portuguese, Nepo: Greek, Wasser: German, Wai: Maori, Galin: Wiradjuri, Wala: Yorta Yorta, Su: Turkish, Tubig: Filipino, Vann: Norwegian, Uisce: Irish Gaelic, Dwr: Welsh, Ilma: Maltese, Vand: Danish, Vatten: Swedish, Banyu: Javanese, Vesi: Estonian, Auga: Galician, Ouse: Old English, Av: Kurdish

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!!

Project progress

Words for water is seen as an ever expanding project, allowing for infinite expansion of words, thoughts and stories related to water.

Useful links