Canal Observatory Visit
Initially built for industrial use, canals in the UK have since evolved into spaces dominated by human living. But the water also attracts species beyond the human, creating an enormous potential to become thriving ecosystems and play a vital role in reversing biodiversity loss.Ausblau envisioned the Canal Observatory, a gamified tool for data collection and reflection. It acts as the link between human and non-human worlds, fostering change for a more biodiverse ecosystem.In this commission, Ausblau collaborated with Applied Logic to create the tool as an openly accessible online interface that helps interpret and translate the state of the canal. The Canal Observatory challenges who has the power to collect and share data - by using the non-scientific language of 'canal emojis', participants can intuitively log what they see in the quadrants located in Camley Street Natural Park and learn about the canal's health. Through interaction with the Canal Observatory, the designers intend to make citizen scientists become engaged stakeholders in the future of the canal's ecosystem.

Total species counted:
WaterWays is an art project that connects humans to other living organisms of the Regent’s Canal. Through Canal Observatory, a newly commissioned digital game for data collection codesigned by artist collectives AusBlau and Applied Logic, interviews, stories, ecological findings. WaterWays seeks to understand the health of this ecosystem in the hope of remedying and rebuilding relationships. The research is presented in the form of three chapters: Voices of Water; (Un)learning Canal Ecosystems; and Archiving Futures.
Voices of Water
Stories form who we are, how we think, and in turn, how we shape the world. The more stories we have to draw upon, the more tools we have at our disposal to adapt our thinking. But how can we listen to these stories and pay attention more comprehensively?This chapter allows people to hear the voices of those who have been working with water and data for much longer than WaterWays. The testimonies collected here come from a broad range of fields: scientists, academics, local inhabitants, students, and ecologists.
Carlotta Novella
Carlotta Novella is an artist, architect, teacher and host, part of London based practice public works. Having graduated from IUAV Venice, and after that from the MA Arch programme at Central Saint Martins, she has since developed a multidisciplinary practice which explores the idea of gathering and the new tools created by architects to foster participatory city making. Her work looks at how spaces, structures and rituals of food production and sharing can develop civic practices, promoting direct involvement and collective action, to transform and reclaim contemporary public life through conviviality.
Michael Smythe
Michael Smythe is an artist and creative director of Nomad Projects, an independent arts foundation that develops experimental projects across digital and location-specific spaces. Nomad Projects critically engages with issues surrounding environmental and social justice within the urban landscape.Current projects include 'Phytology', an urban physic garden and research institute in Bethnal Green (East London) and the Mobile Apothecary, a herbal medicine dispensary providing free healthcare to individuals and communities with limited access to quality health support.Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra, and Hochschule Der Künste, Berlin.
Mark Spencer
Dr Mark Spencer is an experienced and internationally respected botanist. His expertise covers many disciplines including forensic botany, the plants of North-west Europe, invasive species and the history of botanical science. He also works globally as a seasoned writer, public speaker and television presenter.
Click points to listen
(Un)learning Canal's Ecosystems
This chapter is a place to restore and to challenge the broken relationships between the more-than-humans and our own. It is a place for listening, nurturing health and imbuing tangible and useful skills.(Un)learning Canal Ecosystems documents the public programming hosted by WaterWays during the research and launching of the project. This chapter is formed of a workshop series titled Canal Assembly, a Friday Lunchtime Lecture hosted by Open Data Institute (ODI) and celebration day at Camley Street Natural Park.Canal Assembly workshops were hosted at Camley Street Natural Park between 25 April - 28 April 2022 with Central Saint Martins’ architecture students. The workshops reimagined the canal as a learning and cultural space through speculative designs, data collection games, collective research, foraged tea tasting, and round table discussions. These workshops were structured to (un)learn the ways in which we understand the canal ecosystem and were followed by an in-depth discussion with the artist collective AusBlau in an ODI Friday lecture. Saturday 21 May 2022 brought people together to celebrate the project and included a performance by Becky Horne.
Canal Assembly 1
WaterWays with Central Saint Martins BA 1 Architecture Students
Canal Assembly 2
WaterWays, AusBlau and Central Saint Martins BA 1 Architecture Students
Illustrations by Central Saint Martins BA Architecture students
Archiving Futures
When we are supposed to think about endings, we find ourselves circling, cycling, recycling - coming back to the same place, negotiating where we began and how to end. But water has no end, the water cycle is constantly nourishing itself, it feeds and grows and continues, so this project has no clear end, just a pause. A moment of reflection, a breath point.Archiving Futures offers an archive from which research and conversations can continue. It is an invitation from WaterWays to you where we present the data from our research and ask you to collaborate and continue the discussion with those who invest in canal ecosystems.This chapter seeks to present what we have heard and how you can continue to restore and regenerate the broken relationships between humans and the living organisms of the Regent's Canal and canals across the country.
Type Source Categories
Practitioners Mark Spencer Botany, flora, fauna, ecology, education
Project archive Flora of London Project London flora, field-research, community
Project archive BSBI's Distribution Database Botanical records, flora archive, environmental data
Project archive GiGL Botanical records, flora archive, environmental data
Book Silent Earth - Averting the Insect Apocalypse Insects, environmental data
Book Weeds by Richard Mabey Flora, weeds, environmental data
Project GenePools Pond, environmental data, citizen scientists
Article eDNA eDNA, environmental data, citizen scientists
Project Urban Mind Mental health, environmental health, data
Article 'Contact with nature in cities reduces loneliness' Mental health, environmental health
Book Correspondences by Tim Ingold Human and more-than-human relations
Book More-than-human Human and more-than-human relations
Book Lo-TEK by Julia Watson Human and more-than-human relations, design, indigenous knowledge
Project Phytology Cultural Institute Human and more-than-human relations, ecology, art, education, community
Organisation The SuperSlowWay Canal, ecology, art, education, community
Project The SuperSlowWay - Wet Lab project Canal, ecology, art, education, community
Organisation Canal & River Trust Canal, ecology, education, community
Project Canal & River Trust - Lower Regent's Coalition Canal, ecology, education, community
Sound Recording Canal & River Trust - Podcast Voices of Water, Canal, ecology, education
Book Flows Voices of Water, bodies of water, art, ecology, education
Book Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer Human and more-than-human relations, reciprocity
Book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer Human and more-than-human relations, reciprocity
Archive How is there? here... Network, communities, sharing
Archive Metagoon Network, communities, sharing
Archive Ocean Community Network, communities, sharing
Sustainable Website Formafantasma energy consumption, CO2 emissions, navigating the internet
Sustainable Website Solar Low Tech Megazine energy consumption, CO2 emissions, navigating the internet
The Disconnect Solar Low Tech Megazine energy consumption, CO2 emissions, navigating the internet
WaterWays, an invitation to re-imagine the ecology of Regent’s Canal is curated by Chiara Famengo, Fergus Wiltshire, Jiaqi Liu, Kylee Kim, Marjorier Ding, Yixiong Cui from the MA Curating Contemporary Art Programme as part of the Graduate Projects 2022, Royal College of Art in partnership with the Open Data Institute (ODI)’s Data as Culture.
Instagram, Website
They are Christoph Dichmann and Elissa Brunato. Together they form AusBlau.They are a creative design studio based in London, leading playful investigations into materiality, ecosystems and the human experience. Throughout their work they collate diverse opinions, uncover systemic challenges and imagine resilient futures, to inspire an active engagement with our rapidly changing world.
Applied Logic
Instagram, Website
Applied Logic is a collective focused on design and innovation. Exploring the significant societal changes that are transforming everyday life, we experiment with emerging technologies to develop speculations and solutions that aim to help build a better future for people and the planet.
Becky Horne
Instagram, Website
Becky Horne is a UK based dance artist, working as a maker, performer & researcher. With a focus on wellbeing, her work often explores togetherness, touch and connections with our environments through sensory experiences. Becky is a member of movement collective SALVAGE and a Young Professional at Swindon Dance 2020-22. She works largely with improvisation in non-traditional performance spaces and her most recent projects include: I turn, you grab, funded by Jerwood Arts, and Taking Breaths, an audio project commissioned by Ginkgo Projects funded by Zurich.