r&d project initiated by Urbonas Studio in collaboration with Tracey Warr
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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