19:42 21 January 2019

‘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.

Wiradjuri Murriyang 2017

20:54 19 November 2017

This collaborative project between Wiradjuri Artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney, astronomer Trevor Leahman, Cementa Biennale Kandos and EIRL WSU comprised original astronomy objects by Towney embedded in astronomical visualisations by Leahman.

Field of Dreams, Badanami WSU 2017

18:43 19 November 2017

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.



Aboriginal Australia

13:45 13 February 2008

I am humbled to say I have some professional and personal experience of Aboriginal Australia. I’ve worked in several communities teaching media production for the AFTRS and MetroScreen, and mentoring people. For the most part I have eschewed making Aboriginal media, 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’.