This collaboration between the School of Cybernetics and the Institute for Water Futures provides creative and immersive opportunities to explore alternative futures and reimagine our relationships with water.

The future is “unevenly distributed”#, and this holds particularly true for our futures with water. As the changing climate leads to global temperature rises and more extreme and unpredictable weather events across the planet, future complexities will include floods, droughts, and water quality challenges. Communities – often the same communities – are already learning to live with too little quality water, or entirely too much water, due to unwanted changes in systems. Coastal cities and regions are increasingly threatened by storms, bushfires, and rising sea levels, while issues of freshwater availability, access, and sanitation are sources of ongoing struggle for many populations across Australasia and the world.

Safely, responsibly, and sustainably navigating these extremes and futures with water will require creative thinking, optimism, investment, knowledge sharing, and a systems-level understanding of how water flows through every level of the world in which we co-exist. To this end, the Institute for Water Futures, led by the School of Cybernetics and an international network of creative, academic, and industry partners, is producing a program of work on ‘Cybernetic Water Stories’, offering multiple points of entry into water futures conversations at the local, regional, national, and global levels. This transdisciplinary research and multi-media program aims to explore, educate, entertain, and engage the public imagination, using the tools of cybernetics, futuring, immersive design, narrative storytelling, and speculative fiction to explore the futures of water and life connected to it.

The program will produce a series of narrative and immersive experience outputs, ranging from science fiction stories to sound art installations, podcasts, games, and original films focused on our relationships with water, including the rivers and water systems that sustain and impact us. This combined body of work builds from water stories supported and presented by IWF and the School of Cybernetics—such as the paintings of cultural resident Glenn Loughery, the Wiradjuri artist, author, and activist—and will similarly strive to bring new perspectives to discourses around water futures.

School of Cybernetics contacts:#

Prof Katherine Daniell
Dr Hannah Feldman
Charlie Paulk

Check out the Photo Essay that was exhibited at the UN Water Conference official side event “The United Nations of Rivers, Deltas and Estuaries – Day 6 Engaging water: Artistic Workshops”, New York Water Week, 22 March 2023.

Photo Essay

’#’ With thanks to science fiction writer William Gibson, and our School of Cybernetics colleagues who share this as a favourite quote.

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

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