Has water evolved us?

Extracts from an interview on my writing with Sarah Gray on Soundart Radio. Listen in

‘I’m trying to have water as a protagonist but trying not to anthropomorphise it….

I’m engaging with water as an entity. It’s probably extraterrestrial. There is a theory that it came from outer space….

In my regular train commutes along the coast I tried to imagine what it would it look like with a significant sea level rise, what would be visible above a 4 metre sea level rise….

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My book, The Water Age and other fictions includes a short story about scientists in Iceland trying to graft themselves with algae, and it includes my novella, Meanda. Meanda is a water exoplanet. I invented a mycelium translator that could be charged up through tree sap and enable the Meandans (amphibians) to communicate with humans. The great thing about fiction is it’s got to be credible but you don’t have to work out all the details of how things work!

The Meandans involve water in their decision making. They treat other species and entities as their equals.

Diverse bits of my work feed each other. The mycelium idea came from an art project I was working on with Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius for the Zooetics project. That project, in turn, was inspired by J.G. Ballard’s stories, in Vermilion Sands, of a dress and a psychotropic house made from living plant materials that respond to the wearer’s or the inhabitant’s body chemistry and emotions.

Water Love

Water Love

1 Annantalo Childrens Workshop

Not being able to immerse during the current lockdown is hard going for those of us who are hydrophiles. In 2018 I published three small books with the series title, The Water Age. They were the culmination of my research in the arts and ecology project, Frontiers in Retreat.

One book is a collection of short future fiction stories, including Meanda, which is set on a watery exoplanet; Asbru, which imagines researchers grafting themselves with algae in Iceland; and other stories exploring slime technologies, aquatic biomimicry, and water as an extraterrestrial.

The other two books are collections of instructions for art and writing workshops focused on water: one is for children’s workshops and the other for adults. These latter two books derived from workshops I ran at a range of places including HIAP on Suomenlinna Island, Finland; Annantalo children’s art school in Helsinki (pictured above); on the ferry going to Uto island, Finland; Glen Nevis in Scotland; OVADA in Oxford; Modern Art Oxford, and a primary school in Northumberland.

If you are interested in running water art or writing workshops yourself for children or adults, books 2 and 3 give simple instructions that you can follow and adapt for your own workshops. The books are available as paperbacks or ebooks from Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

And here are some other watery resources to check out and keep you going in these dry times:

Tuomas A. Laitenen art with octopuses

Outdoor Swimming Society on lockdown swimming

Wet Sounds underwater/in water soundart

Amy Sharrock’s Museum of Water

Tine Bech’s pool art The Big Swim

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The Water Age books

Meanda Books has published three books as the culmination of Tracey Warr’s work in the Frontiers in Retreat art and ecology research project.

Water Age 1 cover hi res

 

The Water Age & Other Fictions

Paperback ISBN 9780995490215

ebook ISBN 9780995490222

publication date September 2018

Information Sheet: The Water Age and Other Fictions #1

Available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and iBooks

 

 

 

 

Octavio Paz meets J.G. Ballard meets David Attenborough in these suspenseful, lyrical tales of hybrid species and aqua technologies. ‘Meanda’ takes place on an ocean exoplanet. ‘Asbrú’ tangles in the fronds of Icelandic algae. Other stories explore slime technologies. These fictions are spawned by aquatic flora and fauna, such as spitting fish, inking squids and singing whales, and above all, they are inspired by water itself.

[Cover by James A. Hudson]

Water Age 2 cover hi res

 

The Water Age Art & Writing Workshop

Paperback ISBN 9780995490239

ebook ISBN 9780995490246

publication date September 2018

Information Sheet: The Water Age Art and Writing Workshops #2

Available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and iBooks

The Water Age #2 Supporting Materials

 

 

The art and writing workshops in this book engage creatively and playfully with the possibility that we may be living with more water in the future. The topic of water is explored through writing and art exercises that include aquatic biomimicry inventions, writing with maps, drawing inspirations from Vikings and taking watery words on adventures.

[Cover by James A. Hudson]

Water Age 3 cover hi res

 

The Water Age Children’s Art and Writing Workshops

Paperback ISBN 9780995490253

ebook ISBN 9780995490260

publication date September 2018

Information Sheet: The Water Age Children’s Art and Writing Workshops #3

Available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook and iBooks

The Water Age #3 Supporting Materials

 

 

The water you drink has been through the bladder of a Tyrannosaurus rex and many other places. The water on Earth is 4.4 billion years old and came here from outer space. The octopus has three hearts and its eyes can look in two separate directions.

What other facts can we find out about the behaviour of water?

What can we learn about aquatic flora and fauna?

What imaginative ideas can we have about living with more water?

The Water Age Children’s Art and Writing Workshops is a book for teachers, artists and writers who are working with children aged 8-11. The workshops focus on water and contemplate a possible future when we are living with more water.

The art workshop suggests drawing and painting waterscapes, building waterscapes in the classroom or playground, designing and making models for water living, creating simple films about water living. The writing workshop helps to develop a story about a future watery world, and suggests performing and recording a story, creating an exhibition or broadcast, or turning a story into a book.

[Cover by James A. Hudson]

The Water Age books series by Tracey Warr is co-produced by HIAP. The books were developed during Warr’s Frontiers in Retreat residencies with HIAP on Suomenlinna island, Finland; with Centre d’Art i Natura in Farrera, the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain; and with Jutempus, Lithuania, and as part of projects undertaken with MAGCP, Cajarc and Allenheads Contemporary Arts. The Water Age and other Fictions was also assisted by a Literature Wales Writers Bursary supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Wales.

 

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Meanda novella published for Exoplanet Lot exhibition

Meanda CoverMeanda [French Edition, 2016] is a novella written in English, and published as an ebook in English with a French translation. The exoplanet, Meanda, is 90% water. Vast oceans are dotted with archipelagos of mountainous islands, where rivers meander to rejoin the sea. A human expedition arrives to establish an escape settlement for a few hugely wealthy people. The environment on Earth is seriously degraded and civil society is in rapid decline. The expedition’s instrumentation tells them that the exoplanet does not have any higher intelligence life-forms ….

The novella was written during a residency at Maisons Daura in Saint Cirq Lapopie in the Lot Valley in France. The Lot is the most meandering river in France. The ebook was published as part of the Exoplanet Lot exhibition organised by Maison des Arts Georges Pompidou, Cajarc.

A daily twitter version of Meanda ran July-September 2016 on @Meanda55555.

Fragments of the text were installed on the GR36 long-distance footpath between Saint Cirq Lapopie and Bouzies where it runs beside the river Lot.

And see Exoplanet Lot on Facebook.

Meanda est une nouvelle écrite et publiée en anglais, traduite en français. L’exoplanète Meanda est composée d’eau à 90%. Des archipels montagneux sur lesquels serpentent des rivières parsèment de vastes océans. Une expédition humaine débarque afin d’établir une base pour quelques habitants extrêmement aisés. L’environnement naturel s’est extrêmement dégradé sur Terre, et la société civile montre un déclin inéluctable. Les appareils utilisés révèlent aux membres de l’expédition que l’exoplanète n’abrite aucune forme de vie intelligente…

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