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This symposium will look at two case studies of how digital technology acts as a medium for indigenous creativity and connection.
Miyarrka Media curator and co-founder, Jennifer Deger, will talk about the challenges and possibilities of the Gapuwiyak Calling exhibition, which was presented by a new media collective based in the community of Gapuwiyak in northern Australia. Inspired by the ways that mobile phones have generated a new era of indigenous media and art practice, this exhibition aimed to do more than simply collect and display Yolngu phone-made material as cultural artefacts: the aim was to activate the performative aesthetics and poetics of Yolngu phone media in a museum setting.
Fran Edmonds' paper will discuss a recent pilot digital storytelling project conducted with a group of Aboriginal young people in Melbourne's inner north. The project included young people working with older Aboriginal community members, with an Aboriginal artist and with a filmmaker, to create their own stories using a range of digital technology and multimedia. The project enabled Aboriginal youth to reveal their expertise in manipulating and controlling digital media, including mobile devices, for their own purposes. However, while these young people, like youth generally, displayed high levels of digital literacy, this project demonstrated that 'not all media ecologies are equal'.
Jennifer Deger is an anthropologist, filmmaker and curator. Currently an ARC Future Fellow and Tropical Leader at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Deger has worked with Yolngu in Australia's northeast Arnhem Land on collaborative video and art projects for almost twenty years. She is the author of Shimmering Screens: Making Media in an Aboriginal Community (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
Dr Fran Edmonds is an ethnographer, with an interest in the history and anthropology of Australian Aboriginal culture. Fran is a member of the Research Unit in Public Cultures, and is currently the research fellow on the Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Aboriginal young people in Victoria and Digital Storytelling, which is partnering with Australian Centre for the Moving Image, VicHealth and Sista Girl Productions.