Keywords for my art practice are innovation, aesthetic treatments, platform agnostic, and user experience design. I am a long standing Sydney media artist who has been innovating with film, video and interactive multimedia for 25 years. Working in collaboration and alone in Australia and internationally, my media artworks have widely leveraged most new media platforms and channels, from generative software (sub_scape with Sarah Waterson 2004-2006), Second Life multiple user world (Macbeth in 2nd Life 2014) to interactive projections (Bystander 2007, Live After Wartime Live with The Necks 2003, Encoded with Stalker Theatre Co 2011, Bloodbath 2010), and VR (The Rocks VR 2016, Bandami Web GL commission 2017). My groundbreaking collaborations include the pre-eminent Australian database imaginaries project, Life After Wartime (with Ross Gibson, the live-streamed gaming and social engagement project Wayfarer (with Martyn Coutts 2007-2009 voted one of the top 10 “simple, brilliant initiatives, enterprises and ideas that get on with the job of triggering and networking public association for public good” by influential blogger David Barrie in 2008.); a world’s first virtual and interactive Shakespeare in the Second Life project in Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters (with Kereen Ely Harper and Angela Thomas 2008); the live data visualisation and poetics engine ‘sub_scape’ (with Sarah Waterson 2003-2007), and the live video and roller derby data event Bloodbath in association with the Sydney Roller Derby League which premiered at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in 2011 (with Linda Dement, Sarah Waterson, Nancy Mauro Flude and Francesca di Rimini). I have exhibited at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, The Performance Space at Carriageworks, the Blake Prize Director’s Cut, The Australian Centre for Photography, The Centre for Contemporary Photography Melbourne, the International Symposium for Electronic Art Sydney, Belfast and Helsinki, Experimenta, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Sydney Opera House amongst others. As a new media dramaturge, I have brought considerable experience to theatre groups such as Sydney’s Urban Theatre Projects and Stalker. I have also produced multimedia projects for a variety of clients including Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Sydney Olympic Park, The Australian War Memorial, Landini Associates, the Museum of Sydney and the Justice and Police Museum. In 2018 I was busy with projects including producing and co-writing/editing a 3 channel video installation A Drone Opera (CarriageWorks 2019), consulting on a VIVE VR project for Urban Theatre Projects and co-devising the VR engine FoVoE. I am the Post Graduate Co-ordinator for Creative Industries at Western Sydney University and leader of Western’s Experiential and Immersive Research Lab. For a full biography and bibliography please go to http://katerichards.net/biography/
‘The lowlands flood’, the Booroborwongal clan warned the invaders. They settled anyway; floods regularly devastated the Hawkesbury colonists from 1780. In FLOOD, users in a CGI night-time flood-scape stand in rising and ebbing waters. Grasping luminescent pre- and post-contact objects suspended in the swirling darkness, triggers tales from many perspectives.
Floods are artistic and unconscious/dream metaphors for great forces sweeping away eras and structures, the turning-upside-down of the known world, the fear and horror of what lies beneath, of being dragged under and swept away. Invasion swept away so much of the culture, lives, crops, hunting and infrastructure of the Booroborwongal. The colonists’ destruction, clearing and ‘farming’ exacerbated flooding, the great river takes its revenge over and over.
Aesthetically, FLOOD is dark waters, atmospheric, mesmerising. Illumination comes from an aesthetic and design strategy in which local natural materials (bark, insects, fish scales, minerals, fur, cotton) are scanned using confocal microscopy which captures their natural luminescence. This bio-luminescence will be used to animate, texture and bring alive the night-time flood-scape and objects. The bio-luminescence represents the life forces of objects made from natural materials and that of the land itself. The water is made volumetric by swarms of fish and/or smaller debris.
The FLOOD user experience is to stand thigh-deep in the edge of the ebbing and flowing waters, feeling their force with the racket of the flood in your ears, the waters stretching into the dark infinity. There is a forest behind, sentry-like. In the water, you can spot suspended objects, alive with bio-luminescence, bedevilled by water spirits, flowing towards and slipping away from you. An indigenous tool, a nightdress, an old tin, a school pin. You grasp to hold the objects – with your right hand, a Dharug voice speaks; with your left, you hear a colonist. The voices rise and mingle with the flood; very close, or sweeping around, whispering secrets, fears, truths, hopes, anger.
Badanami Centre’s innovative online outreach tool Field Of Dreams (FoD) utilises two Virtual Reality (VR) platforms, 360 video and WebGL. Designed for off- and on-site engagement, FoD deploys an appropriate Aboriginal design language and user experience (UX) to highlight WSU, its Council of Elders and its potential for Aboriginal students.
FoD is comprised of a WebGL landscape showing the WSU campuses. The WebGL enables users to fly between campuses and watch videos of elders, academics, professional staff and students. Some of these videos are 360 degrees showing immersive learning environments such as The Moot Court. There is a gameplay – follow a series of video clues to best understand the tertiary learning cycle. As users watch the videos, their message stick fills up with symbols that explain the learning cycle in a culturally appropriate ways. FoD is designed to be used with VR goggles onsite at Open Days, and before, during and/or after student/teacher engagement with WSU. Visitors to classrooms can use the online tool to explain aspects of WSU; teachers can show and discuss videos about the various disciplines on offer; students can navigate the VR landscape, identify the campuses and learn about the aims, priority and forms of education available to them at WSU.
This project contributes to the building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence at Western Sydney University including in its methodologies of cross-cultural co-creation.
Produced by Kate Richards, Experiential and Immersive Research Lab, HCA WSU.
I am humbled to say I have longtime professional and personal experience of Aboriginal Australia. I’ve worked in several communities teaching media production for the AFTRS and MetroScreen, and mentoring media producers and artists. For the most part I have eschewed driving Aboriginal content, seeing it as the right of indigenous people to tell their own stories. I did however direct a video for the NPWS NSW in 1999, ‘Inard Oongali’ about seven female elders from Toomelah working with the late Carol Kendall, OAM who was one of the original authors of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report. During my time at the Museum of Sydney I interviewed and edited extensive oral history interviews of local Aboriginal people who identify with original Sydney tribal groups. This video is installed in the museum; and I worked collaboratively with the photographer Michael Riley on a video about Redfern called ‘Guwanyi’.
In 2017 I produced the fulldome video ‘Wiradjuri Murriyang’ by Wiradjuri artist, Scott “Sauce” Towney and astronomer Trevor Leahman, funded by Arts OutWest Local, Lands Services and the Big Skies Collaboration and by The Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government initiative that supports sustainable cultural development in regional, remote and very remote Australia. In 2016 I produced the WebGL (online VR) Indigenous student engagement project for Badanami Centre, WSU, with director Jarrad Hodges.