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r&d project initiated by Urbonas Studio in collaboration with Tracey Warr
January 13th, 2012


Friday Jan 13 2012 presentations of drafts and projects and discussion with invited reviewers took place at the Roth Room.



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January 12th, 2012

meeting with Joseph A. Paradiso

On Thursday Jan 12 2012 we had a field research meeting with Joseph A. Paradiso, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Co-Director, Things That Think, head of Responsive Environments at the Media Lab. E14-548p.

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January 12th, 2012

meeting with Karl Haglund

On Thursday, Jan 12 2012 Guest Speaker of the workshop was Karl Haglund, the author of Inventing the Charles River; He is also a project manager at New Charles River Basin Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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January 11th, 2012


Roger Deakin, Waterlog:

‘The warm rain tumbled from the gutter in one of those midsummer downpours as I hastened across the lawn behind my house in Suffolk and took shelter in the moat. Breast-stroking up and down the thirty yards of clear, green water, I nosed along, eyes just at water level … The best moments were when the storm intensified, drowning birdsong, and a haze rose off the water as though the moat itself were rising to meet the lowering sky.’
‘In the water you are immersed in an intensely private world … I can dive in with a long face and what feels like a terminal case of depression and emerge a whistling idiot.’

John Cheever, ‘The Swimmer’:

‘To be embraced and sustained by the light green water was less a pleasure, it seemed, than the resumption of a natural condition … The day was lovely, and that he lived in a world so generously supplied with water seemed like a clemency, a beneficence.’


Bauman, Zygmunt (2000) Liquid Modernity, Cambridge: Polity.

Calvino, Italo (1978) Invisible Cities, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Cheever, John (1990) Collected Stories, London: Vintage.

Conrad, Joseph (1999) Heart of Darkness, Penguin. Originally published 1903.

Deakin, Roger (2000) Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain, London: Vintage.

Fishman, Charles (2011) The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, New York: Free Press.

Hall, Max (1986) The Charles: The People’s River, Olympic Marketing.

Haglund, Karl (2003) Inventing the Charles River, Boston: MIT Press.

Kastner, Jeff, ed. (1998) Land and Environmental Art, London: Phaidon.

Lynch, Kevin (1992) The Image of the City, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Macfarlane, Robert (2007) The Wild Places, London: Penguin.

Piene, Otto, ed. (1976) You are Here, Boston Celebrations: Environmental Art, Cambridge: MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies/Institute of Contemporary Art.

Rew, Kate & Tyler, Dominic (2008) Wild Swim: River, Lake, Lido and Sea, London: Guardian Books.


Amphicar http://www.amphicar.com

Charles River Conservancy Agency http://www.thecharles.org

Copenhagen Suborbitals http://copenhagensuborbitals.com

Floating fishing villages in Asia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_village

long-established communities which exist entirely on, and from, the water

Great Pacific Garbage Patch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

The Green Museum http://www.greenmuseum.org

MIT Museum Hart Nautical Collection http://web.mit.edu/museum/collections/nautical.html

Open Sailing http://opensailing.net

Outdoor Swimming Society http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

People Powered Submarine http://www.greenmuze.com/climate/travel/1044-people-powered-submarine-.html

MIT Sea Perch DIY underwater robot http://seaperch.mit.edu/index.php

Suikinkutsu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suikinkutsu

Traditional Japanese stream musical instrument (designed to be visually hidden and to delight listeners by the sounds coming from under the ground; water flow used to change the perception of a place)

Underwater Gliders AUVs that can cross oceans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_glider


Ala Plastica http://www.alaplastica.org.ar

Lise Autogena http://www.autogena.org

Matthew Buckingham http://www.matthewbuckingham.net

Muhheakantuck – history of the Hudson, flight along the Hudson

Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon http://irational.org/kayle/#

Avon Canoe Pilot

Vincent Callebaut http://vincent.callebaut.org/

Lilypad – a floating ecopolis for climate refugees

Marcus Coates http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/photography%20%26%20film/film%20art/art349481

The Trip – an imaginary trip down in the Amazon in a canoe with a terminally ill patient

Susan Derges www.susanderges.com

worked at night, placing photographic paper  on the river bed and allowing the images to be exposed through ambient light, aided by the use of a flash gun. Publications: Woman Thinking River,1998, Liquid Form,1999.

Diller and Scofido: Blur Building http://www.dillerscofidio.com/blur.html

Mark Dion http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/artnow/markdion/default.shtm

Tate Thames Dig, 2000

Olafur Eliasson http://www.olafureliasson.net

Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison http://www.theharrisonstudio.net

Watersheds, river restorations, Global Warming and rising water levels

HeHe http://hehe.org.free.fr

Mitchell Joachim River Gym http://www.archinode.com/gym.html

Antti Laitinen http://www.anttilaitinen.com/

Annea Lockwood http://www.annealockwood.com/compositions/housatonic.htm

A Sound Map of the Housatonic River

Lone Twin http://www.theboatproject.com/

Building a boat from donated wood with stories – a seaworthy archive of memories

Marie Lorenz and Diana Stevenson http://www.marielorenz.com/upriver

Photo essay of a 3 day journey on the Hudson in a homemade boat

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer http://www.lozano-hemmer.com


Cardigan – Turbulence – floating 127 buoys in the river Teifi’s centre along with a loudspeaker and an LED light source.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Fallingwater http://www.fallingwater.org/

Makrolab http://makrolab.ljudmila.org

Dominique Mazeaud http://www.earthheartist.com

Cleansing of the Rio Grande – 7 year monthly project

Matthew Mazotta http://matthewmazzotta.com/home.html

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba


Outlandia http://www.outlandia.com

Erik Pirolt, Trond N. Perry and Stian Pollestad, Kysa, DIY artists boat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJLhxDBf-IE&NR=1&feature=endscreen

Platform http://www.platformlondon.org

Still Waters, 1992 – 2001 – imagining London’s buried rivers – the Walbrook and the Effra confined to sewers and storm drains, installing a school water turbine

Marjetica Potrc

Three Gorges Project (artistic responses to)


Chen Qiulin, Yun-Fei Ji, Liu Xiaodong and Zhuang Hui

Tobias Putrih


Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas

Gediminas Urbonas & Nader Tehrani, Liquid Archive


Wet Sounds http://www.wetsounds.co.uk

Hector Zamora Geometrias Daninhas (2006) http://www.lsd.com.mx/proyecto?id=53#
pvc pipes and water lilies, Ibirapuera lake, São Paulo – Brasil in How to live together – 27th São Paulo Biennial
“Harmful geometries” is an intervention at the Ibirapuera lake based on the 2220 square meters of water hyacinth contained by 51 octagonal structures of pvc pipes. The authorization to place the water hyacinths was cancelled on September 25th, 2006. The octagonal structures are still floating on the lake.


Alonso, Lisandro (2003) Los Muertos, 82 mins.
Benning, James, Spiral Jetty (shows Smithson’s earthwork above and submerged by the water), US 1970, 16mm, color, 32 min.
Benning, James, California Trilogy (Politics of water supply to Los Angeles): El Valley Centr (2000); Sogobi (2001); Los (2001).
Coppola, Francis Ford (1979) Apocalypse Now.
Elfick, David (1973) Crystal Voyager, filmed, written and narrated by George Greenough.
Pollack, Sydney/Perry, Frank (1968) The Swimmer (starring Burt Lancaster, based on John Cheever story).
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January 11th, 2012

summary of ideas

Summary of interests, intuitions, ideas and imaginable outcomes on the white board by Lucia:

January 11th, 2012

Boat trip on the Charles river

On Wednesday, Jan 11 2012 we had a short experience of being on the water during the boat trip on the Charles river. Captain Fran Charles, head of the MIT Sailing pavilion, suggested to advance the trip because of the storm forecast on Thursday.  The trip was exciting but rather short due to the problem with the boat’s engine.


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January 10th, 2012

MIT Museum collection

On Tuesday, Jan. 10 2012 we visited MIT Museum and had an inspiring meeting with Kurt Hasselbach, curator of Hart Nautical Collections there.


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January 10th, 2012

Charles river conservancy

Renata von Tscharner, president of Charles river conservancy agency visited the workshop on Tuesday, Jan.10 2012 and spoke about agency’s role and activities.


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January 9th, 2012

visit at CAVS archive

On Monday afternoon Jan. 9 2012 we visited CAVS archive and with the guidance of Laura Anca Palone found few images from The Charles River Project we have not seen before.


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January 4th, 2012


Art, Architecture and Urbanism workshop:


Gediminas Urbonas (ACT, MIT),
Tracey Warr (Oxford Brookes University, UK)
Lily Tran, TA

Mon Jan 9 thru Fri Jan13, 10am-04:00pm, E15-238a, The Roth Rm http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=E15

Enrollment limited: first come, first served.

Signup by: 09-Jan-2012

Limited to 9 participants

Not for credit

Participants requested to attend all sessions

Prereq: none

For undergraduate and graduate students wishing to pursue further study in advanced areas of intersection between art, culture, technology, architecture, and urbanism not covered in regular subjects of instruction.

A starting point in this workshop is to consider the The Charles River Project (1972) by Gyorgi Kepes, the founder of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). The Charles River Project was envisioned by Kepes as a means to explore new artistic ways of revitalizing the role of the Charles River.

This IAP workshop aims to produce artistic proposals that examine the history or current-day interventions in the river Charles and its biosphere–be they industrial, military, scientific, pedagogical or artistic.

Students will be asked to produce a developed proposal/model/prototype for a river structure or vehicle linking it to citizenship, quality of life or artistic fiction. The class projects will investigate the notion “environmental art” and what was suggested by Kepes as a “civic” dimension to art. The IAP workshop will look at innovative, captivating and speculative forms to address the Charles River from the standpoint of the intersection of art, architecture, technology and urbanism.

The workshop will offer readings, film screenings, field trips and meetings with invited scholars, researchers and artists to support the development of the proposals.

At the conclusion of the workshop there will be a review with invited reviewers taking place in the CUBE (E15-001) on Friday, Jan 13.

Web: vilma.cc/river

Gediminas Urbonas, E15-238, (617) 324-6471, urbonas@mit.edu

Teaching Assistant:
Lily Tran, S.B. Candidate Brain and Cognitive Sciences lilytran@mit.edu

Sponsor: ACT – Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT

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January 4th, 2012

syllabus of the workshop


Subject meets: Monday-Friday, January 9-13, 10am-04:00pm daily,

Location: the Roth Room (E15-238a) http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=E15

website: vilma.cc/river

Gediminas Urbonas, Associate Professor, urbonas@mit.edu, (617) 324-6471
Office: E15-238

Dr Tracey Warr, Senior Lecturer, Contemporary Art Theory/Art & Design Research Co-ordinator, School of Arts, Oxford Brookes University

Teaching Assistant:
Lily Tran, S.B. Candidate Brain and Cognitive Sciences

with participation of:
Michael Blow, PhD candidate, Oxford Brookes University, UK

Nomeda Urbonas, PhD candidate, ACT affiliate, co-founder of Urbonas Studio

Monday, January 9

Brief introduction from everybody about themselves and their work and why they are interested in this workshop.

Introduction by the instructors about the river in art and architecture and CAVS River project archive. Imaginable map of the river.

Guest Speaker :
Alise Upitis, public art curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center (TBC)

Joan Brigham, artist, CAVS fellow (TBC)

Discussion: Your own experiences of rivers.

Introduction of assignment and tasks for the week. Participants will be asked to produce a developed proposal/model/prototype for a river structure or vehicle linking it to citizenship, quality of life or fiction.

Screening of films.

Tuesday, January 10

Field Research: meeting with Kurt Hasselbach, curator of Hart Nautical Collections at MIT Museum (confirmed)

Participants will be asked to undertake river observations in small groups: observations with written notes, photographs, drawings, mappings, interviews with people working or living on the river, or using it for leisure.

Guest Speaker:
Renata von Tscharner, president of Charles river conservancy agency (confirmed)

Wednesday, January 11

Participants will be asked to bring field research materials to the studio/classroom for discussion.

Invited guests:
Svetlana Boym, critic, professor of Slavic and Comparative Literatures at Harvard University (TBC)

Tobias Putrih, artist working in the intersection of art and architecture (TBC)

Develop an idea for a river structure or vehicle.

Discussion of initial ideas.

Consultation with Martin Seymour, product designer and technical instructor at ACT, MIT

Thursday,  January 12

More independent research and development of ideas in small groups, construction. In the early afternoon instructors and invited guest will go around giving feedback on work in progress.

Consultation with Martin Seymour, product designer and technical instructor at ACT, MIT.

Friday, January 13

Public presentation of projects and discussion with invited reviewers.

The ACT CUBE, E15-001


About instructors

Gediminas Urbonas is Associate Professor in Visual Art at the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. With his partner Nomeda they are running The Urbonas Studio’s interdisciplinary research program that advocates for the reclamation of pubic culture in the face of overwhelming privatization, stimulating cultural and political imagination as tools for social change. Often beginning with archival research, their methodology unfolds complex participatory works investigating the urban environment, architectural developments, and cultural and technological heritage.

Urbonas work was awarded Honorable Mention for the Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2007; they had a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art Barcelona MACBA in 2008. Urbonas is co-founder of Transaction Archive and the director of the award winning Pro-test Lab Archive.

more at: nugu.lt/dossier

Tracey Warr is a Senior Lecturer in Art Theory at the Oxford Brookes University in UK. She joined the staff of Oxford Brookes in 2008 having previously worked at Bauhaus University Weimar, Glasgow School of Art, Piet Zwart Institute Rotterdam, Open University and Dartington College of Arts. She leads the art history and theory undergraduate teaching in Fine Art, focussing on art of the 20th and 21st centuries. She supervises PhD students. She co-ordinates Fine Art international and Erasmus exchanges. She is the Art & Design Research (Unit of Assessment) Co-ordinator. Tracey Warr has a mixed practice as writer, curator and teacher. She has developed a mode of writing with contemporary artists as opposed to about them. She sees curating and art writing as part of a continuum with artists’ practice, rather than segregated categories. Her research work focuses on the body and site in contemporary art.

more at: http://arts.brookes.ac.uk/staff/details/warr/

About ACT

The MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology operates as a critical studies and production based laboratory, connecting the arts with an advanced technological community.

MIT program in art, culture and technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, E15-212
Cambridge MA 02139-4307


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