Waters of the Past

Tracey Benson, Australia.

My online contribution would take the form of an interactive map which enables participants to add their stories of place, overlaying my initial genealogical narrative which is composed from my family history and the ethnicity of my DNA which will also be part of a soundscape..

My project is an expansion of another project that I am focusing on titled “Changing Tides: Waters of the Past”. This project is the latest chapter in an ongoing project about the connections between water, humanity and culture – Words for Water initiated in 2013.

In 2017, I have been invited to develop “Changing Tides: Waters of the Past” at Drammen Kommune as an artist in residence and it is my intention to link these residencies together on a number of levels. I will be in Norway for 3 months in Norway developing this project. My plan is to build a visual knowledge and language base from a range of media including DNA, photography, video and augmented reality. During my time in Norway, I will be building my knowledge of the region, with a focus on the countryside around Oslo, Drammen and Hurum (where I have ancestral connections).

As an artist ideas of place, identity and environment have been ongoing themes in my work as well as the notion of journeying. I would be interested in using the material gathered to also develop an augmented reality artwork that would virtually remain in Plymouth. While in Iceland and the Faroes in 2016, I started to learn more about early language and the Runic symbols and alphabet. This interest is slightly disconnected from my main focus of water and water stories but has links to my interest in culture and storytelling. At SCANZ Mahia, I have expanded this work, collaborating with a Maori artist to create runes from found objects and then ‘offering’ them back to the sea.

My intention is to explore the iconography of the sea and natural environment as a juxtaposition to the runic symbols. For me, these symbols represent a culture and language lost as well as a ‘proxy’ for ancestral links to the old country. I see the reinvigoration of these symbols very powerful in regards to constructing a narrative about place, history and belonging as well as offering a link between culture and environment at an experiential level.

Lions Live Here

Riah Buchanan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA / Los Angeles, CA

ABSTRACT (ready for dissemination. 200 words maximum):

The Santa Monica Mountains were protected from development by the National Parks Bill signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1978. The range is surrounded by freeways and traversed by major roadways. These roads parallel and sometimes exactly trace the route of Spanish explorers installing the first Missions, which in turn traced trading routes established by the Chumash, Kitanemuk, Yokut and Tongva, which in turn traced animal paths, which were themselves made obvious by the passage of many animals following one another. In this way the fauna have unknowingly set the boundaries they now seek to surmount. The largest among them, the mountain lion, is one of the most affected. Male lions are territorial – shared space is a liability. P22 (puma tagged 22) crossed the 405 and the 101, taking up residence in Griffith Park. P33 and her brother P32 crossed the 101; the lions are seeking to redraw their territory. But for P32, subsequently killed by a motorist on the 5, the hard boundaries of the roads were definitive. P18 and P09 were also hit by cars and killed. This feedback loop can still be modified. Over with a bridge, under with a tunnel, humans may slowly provide a new trace.


This project is a website that engages the human population of Los Angeles and nearby areas with the activities of local predators, specifically mountain lions. It is a visual representation of a family tree and the killing, inbreeding and untimely deaths within its branches. See the site at lionslivehere.com.



Riah Buchanan received a BA in Psychology from Carleton College and an MFA in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her early artistic practice was an exploration of psychological theories, specifically Terror

Management Theory, or the idea that when fear of death is made salient, humans act in predictable ways. Stemming from this, her work at Cranbrook employed techniques common in both design and in scientific study, such as interviewing subjects, forming and testing hypotheses, and categorizing and creating visual systems. This work often used physical space as a metaphor for psychological space. Since graduating her work has employed the use of several personas; she has performed lectures as a founding father, an anthropologist, an ecologist, and a park ranger, respectively. Her work has been exhibited at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), George Mason University, A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Chime and Co. and Eyebeam. She has been published in Eros magazine in London, wowhuh.com, and Kulturfolger, a publication based in Zurich.