'Digital Songlines' Records Indigenous Heritage in Virtual World

5th April 2006

For immediate release

The Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID) and Indigenous media company Cyberdreaming will release Digital Songlines at Mitchell State School on Wednesday 5 April. Digital Songlines, developed in conjunction with Silicon Graphics, is an immersive 3D experience that records the arts, culture, heritage and country of Indigenous Communities.

Brett Leavy, Cyberdreaming CEO, said digital platforms and simulation technologies are perfect for recording traditional Indigenous language, knowledge, culture and heritage.

"Aboriginal heritage is richly layered, non-linear, and narrative-based, so digital platforms supporting non-linear interactions are a perfect way to record this information for future generations," Mr Leavy said.

"Aboriginal Communities traditionally transferred their cultural heritage from generation to generation through rituals, stories, dance and artworks. These have always been told and experienced in context of the landscape and country."

Digital Songlines engages people in exploring country in quests for knowledge, food, weapons and items of cultural significance. It incorporates language, artwork, spatial audio, photogrammetry of sacred sites and interactive education content in an immersive virtual heritage experience.

The first iteration of Digital Songlines is Irene's World, a record of the material culture and language of the Gunggari Community in the area around Mitchell in South-West Queensland, as told to Gunggari woman Irene Ryder by her family and community.

"Irene's World records the traditional knowledge and language of the Gunggari community, only a few of whom still speak Gunggari language," Mr Leavy said. "It provides young people with an engaging digital tool for education in their own culture and language."

The Digital Songlines platform was developed by ACID in conjunction with SGI (Silicon Graphics) and Cyberdreaming. ACID CEO Professor Jeff Jones said Digital Songlines represented a 10-year effort by individuals in Queensland universities, industry partners and government who were committed to developing better ways to record, register and preserve Indigenous cultural heritage.

"ACID's multidisciplinary team worked closely with the local community, Indigenous leaders and educators to ensure that Digital Songlines provides a method for independently validating knowledge, a toolkit for registering cultural heritage, and interactive software for languages and knowledge that are rapidly disappearing," Prof Jones said.

"The Digital Songlines tool has gained interest from other Indigenous Communities across Australia and internationally. It could also be of use to corporations working with Indigenous Communities when recording cultural heritage values in a property development zone."

For more information:
Jason Pickersgill, ACID. T: 07 3337 7929 or 0432 163 886. E: jason@acid.net.au

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