Article categories: ANAT ReportsIssue 58
February 25th, 2010

Fifteen artists from all parts of Australia participating in the Indigenous Media Lab held this year at QANTM, arrived in Brisbane for a two and a half week program of intense professional development for participating practitioners from film, animation, video, interactive media, photography and visual arts backgrounds. The biennial program was co-ordinated by ANAT in partnership with Brisbane based artist support organisation Artworkers Alliance, with funding secured from the Australia Council’s New Media Arts Board and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Board to support Project Management and Lab Infrastructure.

Participants from front to back: Kye McGuire, Jilda Simpson, Vance Glynn

One artist, Rosanne Viney, who is interested in developing video production skills, says she is privileged to be the first Tasmanian Aboriginal person to participate. Participants’ interests vary, from wanting to formalise, develop and further skills to gain work and start businesses, to benefiting businesses already established in the film/video, design, illustration and the multimedia area as seen with Burri-Gubba and Gubbi-Gubbi decendant Carl Fisher who is co-founder (with partner Chris Peacock) of Murriimage, an Indigenous film and video community service operating in Brisbane since 1985.

Some participants seek to further their development by achieving a special project, having already gained skills previously through tertiary education or work experience. Dena Curtis began working at CAAMA in Alice Springs, which led to her hugely successful contribution to program making, and the unique opportunity to work as an assistant editor to AFTRS graduate Ivan Sen’s film Beneath Clouds. Since then she attended the AFTRS in 2002, and was the first indigenous television editor to graduate.

Participant Robert Paul gathering sound recordings

Michelle Blakeney draws from her eight-year professional photography background, during which she has acheived outstanding success since 1994. These experiences motivate her to explore the many facets of collaborative process founded in artistic creation, whether it be in film, still photography, or multimedia, and currently taking place within collaborative projects in this new media lab program.

All participating artists represent the vast and ever increasing interest being generated, in the diversity of skills gained through the development of these ‘new’ art media and technological mediums (relatively more so in recent years). Prominent Maori new media artist Lisa Reihane contributed by coordinating workshops designed to use sound as a focus to build imagery.

However (and not surprising), what inevitably links these artists collaborate and individual efforts and achievements is a sense of ‘belonging’ linked by stories to do with family, tradition, culture and/or land. This strongly indentifies an Indigenous capacity to adapt through creativity (whether based on the ‘old’ or the ‘new’) in its resistance, to overlook past non-recognition of indigenous cultural diversity through the ongoing effects of colonialism.

From front to back: Robert Paul (participant), Alan Warrie (facilitator), Glen Scott (participant), Andrew Bourne (tutor)

This sense of ‘belonging’ seems naturally outworked through the layering techniques offered in these new media, film and photography art mediums, and resounds with what is already established within indigenous relating, dancing, singing and storytelling (coupled with humour), so strongly evident in the technological ‘fabric’ of the artworks being produced in this new media lab program.

Highlights of the outcome of this new media lab program were seen in the showcase event titled binnug woolah dahgo: listen talking together at QUT Kelvin Grove, with speeches from Aunty Val Coolwell and artist Leah King-Smith.

ANAT Indigenous New Media Lab was held in Brisbane, Australia from 22 August – 9 September 2004.

Janice Peacock
Janice Peacock is a Brisbane based artist and writer of Torres Strait (Erub) Island decent, currently completing a Doctor of  Visual Art degree at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University.

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